Usually when a new web service comes out, I jump at the chance to use it. Most of them I use once or twice and decide it's not for me, and others I use daily. One thing that ties them all together is my online identity. Unless you're a very early participant or you have an unusual name, you're unlikely to get an easy to remember username.
Usually when a new web service comes out, I jump at the chance to use it. Most of them I use once or twice and decide it's not for me, and others I use daily. One thing that ties them all together is my online identity. Unless you're a very early participant or you have an unusual name, you're unlikely to get an easy to remember username. Many people therefore use an online identity - a username that is specific to them- and is unusual enough not to be taken as soon as a new service is launched. This username can become something of a social media identifier, which links together all your different usernames across the web. A related example, and one that works the other way, is when an online identity isn't what you expect it to be. Recently Remy Sharp, a web developer from Brighton, was inundated with tweets unrelated to him. It was the day the band REM broke up, and Remy's Twitter username is, you guessed it, @rem. The official REM Twitter account is @remhq, but people assumed that a band as big as REM would have the Twitter name @rem and sent hundreds of messages to him. So setting up your online identity is very useful: it allows you to find colleagues, friends and relate to someone's identity on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Spotify and any other social network. As someone who works on the web, I like being able to show people what I have worked on across a range of media. But does this have negative implications as well as positive? Identity theft is an increasing concern, and if your online presences are connected, it means if one is hacked, it is easier for the thief to take over the rest too. This can be especially dangerous when children are concerned. For example, if you go to http://pipl.com and enter your name, you may well be able to find a profile of you that draws in information from all over the web. It can be surprising how much is shared, and if you and your friends can keep track of your identity, who else can? The important thing is to keep it secure. By changing your password regularly, and making sure you sign in regularly to check there's no unauthorised activity on your account, you can keep tabs on all of your online profiles. Let me know on Twitter what you think -@chris5marsh