Friday, March 25, 2011

What's In A Name? (Short Take)

In the internet age having a common name is an advantage. It's apparently normal anymore for prospective employers, acquaintances and friends to Google first and not even bother to ask questions later depending on what they find. In my case that doesn't work very well. According to US census data in 2000 Miller was the 6th most common surname in the United States. (link). Michael is the 4th most popular first name in the US according to this site. What happens when both names are combined?
LogoThere are
people with my name in the U.S.A.
How many have your name?

It's not that I'm an especially private person, I've posted to BBS's, forums and BLOG's regularly since I was in my late teens. What I do like however is having choices about what can and can't be easily found and linked to me. I'm part of the first generation to come of age "on the web" and while I can't think of anything I've done over the years that I'd be particularly ashamed of, I am not the same person today I was when I was eighteen years old. It seems very unfair to me that there is the potential now for people to be judged and found wanting because of something they did years or even decades ago. It used to be the case that youthful indiscretions were stored only in the slowly fading memories of a small circle of our friends. Today they are potentially available and preserved in numerous places.

Privacy is increasingly rare so there is something to be said for the anonymity of a common name. Or at least there is until a bill collector shows up on your doorstep looking for somebody with the same name but a very different collection of DNA. 
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