Regarding the name, I figured I would continue the gratuitous use of the archaic "ae" vowel I began with Synaesthesia. Ether is the substance supposed to carry radio waves and such. It's what vacuum is made out of. Webster's dictionary sayes Aether is an Olympian, son of Chaos and Darkness, which is also kind of cool.
I originally used a hacked version of the UseMod wiki to manage this site. That was certainly a lot better than editing HTML by hand -- it's much easier to fix little things if you can edit directly from a browser. But UseMod is written in Perl, which I detest with a passion, and is crufty besides.
The design of Aether largely grew out of annoyance with UseMod. Aether has a well defined markup language. It lets you rename and delete pages without having to look up some obscure feature. Everything is stored in plain text files. It does unicode correctly. It's written in Python. It's easy to add new tags to the markup language.