April 17, 2003
Nom de net

Before I headed off into the ether for the night I read mathowie's post on usernames. Go read it, I'll wait...

Now Matt is a smart guy with lots of whuffie and all that, but in this case he's wrong.

Having usernames or as I like to call them noms de net is important to having well balanced interaction with people on the internet.

Many of the newer users of the net that think that weblog comments are the end-all of personal interactivity may think it's fine to use real names on the net for everything, but it's not. I think they simply don't know any better. I view the people who use FirstLast for a username the same way I view people that have aol.com addresses on their business cards. The just aren't operating on the same plane as me.

There are many ways for people to interact on the net and they each have different social dynamics. Gaming interactions and weblog interactions are two wildly different beasts. Chat rooms and message boards even have different mentalities.

While you cannot ever be completely anonymous, with a few simple clicks you can be fairly untraceable. With enough resources and time, any information can be gathered, but to most people the barrier is too high.

There are many times when anonymity is important. Log into a game of Quake or Counterstrike with your real name, do some serious damage to people and sure enough you have hate mail in our inbox before you quit the game.

Consider games like Everquest or Ultima Online, where much of the politics of the game takes place on message boards. Use your real name there and people will be calling you on the phone complaining about why you PKed them in the game.

Interested in some 'alternate lifestyle'? Are you going to use your real name?

Chatting in IRC with a bunch of strangers? Are you going to use your real name?

Yes, people could try to track you down, looking for connections, but they don't in most cases.

I'm sure you all could track down my two main nom de nets in a few seconds, but there are several names I use that no one but my wife knows. Hell, I've got websites that none of you even know exist. Any you can't even find them due to the way I've registered them. You can't google up a connection, believe me, I've checked.

Anonymity has it's place on the net.

People want to be something other than they are in real life on the net. How can I be the valiant swordsman online in a game and be named MichaelPusateri? The net for a large part is about fantasy. They fantasy of being an expert, the fantasy of being a sexpot, the fantasy of being anything but yourself.

To give in to the flavor of the of hour and use FirstLast as your username is dull, boring, and quite mundane.

Have some fucking style. Have a damn story about your name. Disconnect, just a little bit, from the real world and live a little.

Posted by michael at April 17, 2003 07:22 PM