It’s a matter of identity, isn’t it? My name links people to my digital and real identity. It’s how people can find me. When they call, it’s why I answer. They are using my name!
So what’s in a name? This became part of a discussion last week when Marci Duncan explored digital identity in my media and digital literacy class. The challenge was to google ourselves and see what came up. In order to have a strong digital identity, your name has to have a strong digital voice! It has to shout out to those who are looking. Your name connects others to you. Consistently creating under the same name helps others find what you are saying.
But what if your name connects to people that aren’t you …. and those identities are NOT ones you want others who are searching for you to find?
The challenge is connecting who you are to your name. Sometimes your first venture into the digital world is one where you use a pseudonym or catchy moniker. In my network I’ve wondered how @cogdog or @nomadwarmachine became the digital persona of the real people these names represent. Once the connection is made, it’s not hard to keep them straight. Until you know how the name connects to the individual, it’s harder to keep them straight. At the starting point of building a digital presence, as many of my students are doing, their names are a choice of how they wish to be recognized. Creating a digital identity with a new name is not easy. This is especially true in a digital world that doesn’t forget (Couros & Hildebrandt, 2015).
So what name do you use? How do you establish your name in digital spaces.
Hello. My name is …. HJ.DeWaard.
With this simple statement my digital presence can take on new potentials. It makes a difference when we begin to establish our digital identity. After doing a search for your name, you may decide to establish a variation of your name. You may stick to the name you were given. Even if your given name is unique, it may not be an easy choice. The HJ stands for Helen Jacqueline by the way. This came about because there was already another Helen DeWaard active in social media spaces.
Culture and context will determine how you begin. Our ‘real’ names evolve from our backgrounds (family, geography, nationality). Our persona and presence in digital spaces emerges from our name. When developing an identity, our name is one way of being recognized. It is partnered and supported by our digital image. Despite the fact that the digital world may not forget, our digital names and images can be renovated and changed to suit our potential. Our names should not limit our existence in digital space or put up barriers for others to find us. In digital spaces, we can even teach others how to say our name (as Maha Bali did) so others can get to know us better.
This reminds me of a post by Sue Dunlop (@) who shared the importance of accuracy in using a person’s name and honouring the names we are given. She was reflecting on Rusul Alrubail’s blog post Growing up with my name. Getting a name right is important, not just in the real world where we use our voices to connect and build relationships. Calling me by name and knowing that @hj_dewaard refers to me are ways to ensure that we can connect and build a relationship.
Why is it so challenging to publicly declare our names in digital spaces? What are decisional factors when selecting or creating accounts in digital spaces? Do you keep it REAL or do you use an interesting moniker?
What is your public name? How did you decide how to name yourself for the digital world? How has your persona and presence changed as your name became known?
Couros, A. & Hildebrandt, K. (2015, October 15). (Digital) Identity in a world that no longer forgets. [blog post]. Retrieved from http://katiahildebrandt.ca/digital-identity-in-a-world-that-no-longer-forgets/