faith · life

What’s in a name?

According to my Twitter stats page I’ve been using Twitter since 6th May 2009, in that time I have amassed a mere 2,493 tweets and 216 followers. So I am hardly a major player in the twitter stakes but none the less I am part of a community of tweeters many of whom I’ve built a relationship with over the past 8 months or so.

So now after 8 months of tweeting and enjoying the fellowship on twitter why do I find myself considering a username change?

I’ve commented before that when I came to twitter my experience of social networking was limited to Facebook. So I started tweeting with a Facebook mindset. On Facebook, where my network is made up exclusively of folk I know I am known by my real name. As I signed up for twitter back in May I naturally followed this form.

However twitter is not about networking with folk you know in the real world.

Since I started using the internet back in 1993 I have been known by a nom de plume which I created off-the-cuff while my 28.8kbs modem was hooked up to my ISP’s bulletin board (remember them?). Thus my very first email address was it was a name that stuck and although over the years it has evolved into simply ‘kneewax’ it is still the name I use on the majority of public internet sites, forums and boards. Indeed if you search the word kneewax I account for all but three of the references that Google finds. (the others are a parked domain:, a recent Jazz composition called Kneewax and a youtube video for a spoof product for prolific pray-ers). But don’t as I am not proud of all the comments I’ve made over the years!

Part of me just wants to bring my twitter account in to line. Part of me has always disliked having my real persona obviously visible on the web. But most of all I think I like the distance a nom de plume gives. There is a certain amount of anonymity in it. Sure, if you look beyond the daily updates you will see that my real identity is available, this is not about subterfuge.

On the whole I think I’ll be happier on twitter using my pen-name rather than my real name. It also has the added benefit of being 2 characters shorter than my current username, which will be handy for replies and retweets!

So here goes.In the next couple of days I plan to change my twitter username.

I hope it’s not too confusing….


4 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

  1. Interestingly I chose revdal as my twitter name because it was different to my username anywhere else… I did start off with fracme but people thought it was a rude Battlestar Galactica reference rather than FR Alastair C Mccollum (Esq). I am still fracme for email addresses and usernames on various services and bulletin boards…Not sure why I said that, just wanted to comment. I think I felt that Revdal was a more personal twitter name than the other… and I have made more of an attempt to be transparent and 'normal' on twitter than any other forum.

  2. Y I'm with Al…My twitter name matches my blog, but I am completely incapable of anonymity (can't keep mouth shut long enough) so it's slightly immaterial anyway!

  3. I think I have gone the other way; deciding that honesty and open transparency are more appropriate for Internet postings.So I have dispensed with most anonymous Internet IDs, clarifying my identity in other places – though namesakes above (are only Al*stairs reading this post??!) know there are more ways of (mis-)spelling Alastair than there are for Shakespeare; so I sometimes simplify to AlCutting. When I started posting on the General Synod blog, I initially attempted subtle anonymity; but then started to question 'what am I hiding from whom, and why?'; and now all my posts there and elsewhere are clearly identified.It has an important added effect for me: it makes me think more about which sites I am prepared to have my name associated with and post to, and to carefully re-read what I have written, before I hit the Send button.

  4. Since the author is an Alistair these comments are very appropriate!I agree with some of your points about being transparent and open online. Which is why on twitter, like on this blog, I have no intention of hiding my identity from those who want to look beyond the Moniker. I guess I see the screen name as a sort of firewall between the real identity and the big bad world of the interweb.Agreed there is a benefit to being who you are not a persona on the web, I hope that Kneewax is not a persona – certainly on the few forums I use these days I try very hard not to behave in a way that would be contrary to how I would behave in oerson. Regardless of the name under which I post!

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