That’s not my name: the ties of the new social

“…the information we give off about our selves… has dramatically increased our social visibility and made it easier for us to find each other…”, Clay Shirky in “Here Comes Everybody”

Last week I was invited to attend an informal after work gathering organized and communicated via Twitter. During most part of the event I stood in contemplation of the small group of attendees (the holidays’ season had significantly affected the number of participants) since catching up on the conversation of an all-male group with an appetite for geeky talk and games can prove to be a difficult task even for myself 🙂

So, as I was delightfully taking the opportunity to do a brief sociological study of the opposite sex, one thing stroke me as quite interesting: other connections were often referred to by their Twitter nicknames, not by their real names, even when referring to people that they know in the offline world. This could not be possible (or even imaginable) some years ago.

And on reflecting upon this I recalled an episode that happened to me back in April, when I attended Shift. There I finally got to meet Ana Neves, a person whose work I had come across a few times in the past years and that I connected with via Twitter. I attended her talk and at the end walked up to her and presented myself using my “real life” name. She looked at me for a few seconds as if checking her mental “connections database” to find a match for my name but as I gave her my Twitter nick she immediately knew who I was.

The social tools that we now use are definitely changing the way we share information and connect with others, but are also giving rise to the construction of our online identities. So we better be prepared to increasingly ear ourselves referred to by our nicknames.


One thought on “That’s not my name: the ties of the new social

  1. Well, internet people still know me better by my online names.
    This started happening when I started using mIRC and my nickname Scott(something) and keyboard_cowboy (geek I know). People would know my persona and not me.

    On the other hand, people I met offline and eventually talk to them the most online always refer to me by my first name a never by my nickname.
    Thanks why I developed a nickname that’s my name 😛

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