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Thing #3 – Online Identity

September 24, 2010

WHAT

Your identity on the internet is a big issue!

WHY

The web is public and it’s forever. Some of you might be very wary of putting anything identifiable about yourself online. This is an extremely valid concern! Everything on the web is public, even when you think it’s not. It’s the equivalent of having a personal conversation on a bus: you think only your friend is listening, but the guy in the row behind you could be paying avid interest too. So, before you post something, think: am I comfortable with complete strangers knowing this? If you wouldn’t stick that photo on your office door, don’t post it on the internet …

If you’re aware of these things, you’re already in control.

Fortunately, the internet has a long history of allowing, even encouraging total or partial anonymity from those who use it.  The ‘you’ you are online is not necessarily the ‘you’ you are in real life, and the ‘you’ you are are one place online might be a completely different ‘you’ in another (if that makes any sense to you).  It’s not uncommon for someone to maintain two or three three or even more distinct identities online, complete with unique pseudonyms and email addresses.

Most of the services we’ll be using for the 23 Things allow partial anonymity, in that they require you to register with a working email address and select a username.

HOW

  1. Google your name.  Do you actually appear in the results?  What sort of information does the internet already hold about you?  What happens if you add “St. Charles Parish” to your search? Or your hometown? Try searching for your name in combination with other places or activities you are connected with.
  2. Pick a pseudonym/username that you will use for this program.  You will use it to register an account for your blog and maybe some other services.  Use whatever level of anonymity you feel comfortable with, whether it be your real name or something completely made up.
  3. Check to see if it’s available at least on WordPress or Blogger.

Here are some links to some useful resources for selecting a username.

How to Create a Username WikiHow has how-to guides on just about any topic you can name.  Selecting a name is no exception.
My Username Generator: A quick and simple username generator, that allows you to set the length of your username.
Behind the Name: Random Name Generator Behind the name is a very nifty resource in and of itself, but the name generator will create first, middle and surnames using names broken down into over 80 categories from African to Transformer. You can also browse the name database for names by meaning.
Seventh Sanctum A list of name generators – primarily fantasy

SHARE

Details for sharing this Thing will be in Thing #4 – Blogging Basics.

STRETCH

If you’d like to ponder more about managing your online identity, read Establish and Maintain Your Online Identity.

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3 Comments
  1. Try looking for yourself on pipl.com too.

  2. Kinda scary looking at what others can see. I was even able to find a map to my home!

  3. I must admit that I feel a bit violated when someone can spend less than a dollar and locate where I live (including a map!) along with other personal info.
    In many cases some of the info on me was incorrect which is okay with me since I would prefer no info on me to be available to anyone in the entire world. But that’s just me.
    I read the “Stretch” article. Actually, (maybe I am being a Scrooge about this) I do not want an online identity.
    Although, I can see how registering a domain could be very advantageous if you wished to promote something.

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