True Names and the Fracturing of Identity

I saw a post on the always-amusing Coding Horror regarding the fracturing of online identities. A couple of early blogging pioneers are mentioned, along with the number of separate profiles or identities that they seem to have — in the range of 20-30. The question is, which one of these is “truly” them? The somewhat philosophical question about which of dozens of disparate user identities actually represents a person is an interesting one — it seems possible that abandoned user identities may continue to “outrank” their more updated peers, due to search engine bias or other factors. And, as the article notes, it scarcely seems possible for a regular working person to keep 5, 10, or even 30 different “presences” up-to-date and relevant. The web is littered with abandoned blogs, web sites, software projects, and other detritus, along with sporadically-updated content (such as this blog), for which regular revisits and/or specialized software are required to stay synched.

The potential confusion of abandoned versus current identities is part of the reason that I finally decided to buckle down and register — I figured that it would be the easiest and most specific way for people to easily find me. Personal domain names are kind of like the true names of the 20th and 21st centuries — if you know a person’s name, and it’s fairly unique (as mine luckily seems to be), odds are good that if you just try going to “,” you’ll find them. Sadly, in spite of several months worth of posting, and a domain name that matches my own name, my site still only ranks as the 13th “major” result in a Google search for “Erik Novales.” Looks like I’ve still got some work to do to “reclaim” my identity from all these other community sites!

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  1. i have a v. fractured online identity; that’s b/c there are parts of my life i want kept separate: for professional reasons, b/c i don’t want certain google-happy members of our family to have access to everything i do online, etc. etc. etc. i admire people who write about painful/sensitive topics under their real names, but i don’t do that anymore.

  2. I guess I wasn’t thinking so much of intentional identity bifurcation (I just made that up, BTW), so much as basic neglect of a profile/identity once it loses its shine. The anonymity afforded by the Internet is obviously a very good thing, and I’m certainly not advocating doing away with it…

  3. Pingback: Identity Reclaimed

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