On monikers, real names, and finding yourself on the web

I have for years used the moniker Jonadab the Unsightly One on the internet, partly because it struck my fancy, but also partly because I expected it to be more unique and identifiable than my actual name.

Yesterday, on a whim, I punched my first and last name (Nathan Eady) into Google and started looking through the results. I expected the first several to be me, because Eady is not a terribly common name, and because I've been active on the internet for a while. But I did not expect to get past the first page of results. In fact, the first result I found that does not, in fact, refer to me was the very last result on the fourth page, i.e., the fourtieth result overall. It's a PDF entitled 'Slide 1' from the Development Services department of the city of San Diego, and the name Nathan Eady (both halves together, even though I didn't do the search as a quoted phrase) occurs in a list of employees being noted for some dubious award. Having never been anywhere near San Diego, I am pretty well certain this isn't me.

What is perhaps more interesting is some of the stuff I found along the way -- reference to myself, or my participation in various things, that I had not thought about in some while. For example, I received an honorable mention in a contest for short bad prose, entitled the Lyttle Lytton, in 2001. I remember that sentence very well, but I had forgotten that I wrote it myself, or why. (I do remember the contest, though. It was announced on a usenet group I was reading regularly at the time.) In another place, someone had collected something I said once in a list of quotes. It was clearly something I said, but I have no recollection of the context in which I said it, only the quote remains. I found a number of things like that, obscure places I'd turned up over the years that I'd nearly forgotten about.

Two observations I'd like to draw out of this. First, it's interesting to look at what other people see and remember of you, the things that have been recorded. Second, if I'd just used my actual name in the first place instead of a moniker all these years, that guy in San Diego would be *way* further down the list.


Andy said...

At least you can still find yourself on the web. I have football stadiums named after me (which is unusual, because I'm apparently a rugby player) and, improbably, I am both a state representative from Colorado and a member of Scottish parliament. I didn't know they allowed one to assume roles of leadership in multiple countries.