Sunday, March 04, 2007

My Name is Nohbdy

“ Mother, father, and friends, everyone calls me Nohbdy.” In Robert Fitzgerald’s translation of The Odyssey, that’s how Odysseus responds to Polyphemus’ question: “Tell me, how are you called?”

Clever answer, Odysseus, and one which stood you in great stead as you escaped from that dangerous island. But while the answer Odysseus gave was tricky, the question was straightforward. Not so the question of nomenclature facing those who sign on to the various parts of the Internet. Questions pop up on the screen requesting “default name”, “admin name”, “user name”, “display name” or “account name.” Once in a while they take pity on you and explain what the name means and what it will be used for. The unwary find their names appearing where they hoped for anonymity—and vice versa.

Whether to use a real name or a pseudonym is a problem that plagues forum contributors and bloggers. On the whole, the younger writers who are employed or want to be employed hide their identities. No employer or prospective in-law wants to read exactly what the object of their interest got up to on Saturday night. Heather B. Armstrong single-handedly introduced a whole new word into the English language when her employer found her blog and fired her. My heart went out to the guy begging for help on the Blogger Help Group. He had published a Blog under his real name using the “new” Blogger and his employer demanded that he remove the identifying features (or else.) He couldn’t figure out how to do it.

It’s the older bloggers who cheerfully write under their own names. Just take a look at the writers from the 1930’s who contribute to the ageless project. What have we got to lose? Our pensions?

If a blogger wants his friends to find him, he has to forgo anonymity. Odysseus instinctively knew what we find easy to understand today. Googling “nohbdy” doesn’t yield good results.

1 comment:

maestrocc said...

Interesting and perceptive!