Thursday, September 1, 2011

What is a "Real Name" Anyway? G+ Fails

Google's Server Error page
A few more thoughts today on the whole "Real names" Google+ debate. You can find my previous entry on this topic here. And yes, I realize some people dislike "here" links. Sometimes they are the most natural way to back link.

One of the things I've heard people say in support of real names is that they want to be able to search for a persons name and find out more about them. The problem with this assertion is that it assumes that everyone has an uncommon name. My first name is Mike, which has been one of the top two or three male first names in the US for decades now. My surname is Miller which is a very common surname in the US. I'll add an additional piece of identifying information.; I live in California. Now, do a Google search and pick me out. Hint, you wont find me on at least the first couple of pages. I'll throw in the fact that my middle initial is J. Again, you won't find me on the first few pages. You probably won't find me on the first hundred. My name is a lousy way to identify me uniquely if that is what you're trying to do.

If you search for emkey1 on the other hand the very first thing that comes up on Google's search is an entry from my BLOG.

If the point of this policy is to make it easier to identify people than it's an epic fail in the case of those of us who have common names. My "brand" is emkey1 which is a fairly unique label that is easy to locate.

Another issue I have is that even even if I acknowledge Google's desire that everyone be tied to a real identity I don't understand why anyone besides Google needs to know how to tie a public persona back to a real person. Can anyone explain that to me? Google could even share demographic data with partners without violating peoples privacy which is a big part of their business model so again, I'm perplexed why they think they need to have and enforce their policy as currently constituted.

I'm not a social networking superstar, but I am somebody with a modest presence and I wouldn't mind growing that presence. Google's insistence that I use my real name on G+ makes it more difficult for me to build my "emkey1" brand. Google is essentially asking me to put time and effort into an outlet that isn't furthering my personal goals.

Actually I have a confession. technically my real first name is Michael, not Mike. Nobody but my family calls me that though so hopefully Google won't insist that I use it on G+.

Image via Wikipedia
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