The culture of naming

A thought popped in my head just now about naming.  In this post-digital, web. 2.0, blog, whateveryouwanttocallit world, we all seem to have alter egos.  Pen names.  Mine is obviously Fluvial.  But think about it: we have Livejournal names and listserve names and Playa names (Burning Man reference) all in an attempt to differentiate ourselves from the roar of the crowds.

I’d have to ask my parents, but I’m thinking that ordinary people taking on ‘other names’ is new which is perhaps why most handles for folks over the age of 40 are usually very generic like ‘jsmith8745’ …..because there were 8744 other ‘jsmith’s online. 

I could be walking a dangerous line of age politics but hey, it’s my blog.

I tried to find a study out there that had some insight but came up empty handed.  Any of you have any input on the subject?


~ by fluvial on March 12, 2008.

2 Responses to “The culture of naming”

  1. I can only speak for myself. After I stopped being a teenager, every single thing I did online was with my real name. That was a very deliberate choice. I realized early on two things:

    1) I don’t give nearly as much weight to a question, criticism or opinion from an anonymous or pseudonymous person as I do to someone whose name I know. (Yes, there are good reasons to use a pseudonym, Ms. Fluvial — privacy and safety come to mind — but your content is aimed at your friends who already know you.)

    I decided that I was primarily going to use the internet for academic or business purposes, and that therefore people would take me more seriously if I used my real name. This occasionally means that I get unwanted mail, and the occasional odd phone call, but I’m willing to live with that.

    2) The schizophrenic nature of online identity is a problem for me. I do not WANT to have one name on Amazon and a different one on LiveJournal and a different one on MSDN and… I understand that some people want to have splintered identities, but I do not. It is mentally unpleasant to me to feel fractured.

    Furthermore, I value my reputation, and I want my reputation in one “realm” to “flow” into another — the only way that can happen is if people can make the logical connection between “EricLippert” on LJ and Which is a lot easier when it is “EricLippert” and “”, instead of, say, “SailorDude1234” and “”.

  2. Ha! I’m going to start calling you PianoTamer. Love it.

    I feel the same angst about being fractured online. I possibly got sucked into it because I discovered the interweb when I was 17 and was saying ‘omigod!’ and ‘like, woah!’ all the time so it mainly served as a place to find fashion advice and talk to other girls about lip gloss (oh wait, that’s what this blog is for too *bangs head*). I also had Oprah telling me all about the dangers of using your real identity online. That being said, I didn’t go with ‘cutegrrrlll83’ (probably because it was already taken) but instead chose a handle from an Orwell book (forever the nerd).

    At this point, there’s so many years of content online that it’d be hard for me (and most folks) to reign it all in and place it under one name. And therein lies the frustration. Too much content that out of your control.

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