Monday, September 13, 2010

I Dub Thee Average McNormal

I like this post from Danah Boyd on Apophenia about the trials of picking just the right name for your newborn child. She notes "I clearly live in a tech-centric world so it shouldn’t be surprising that SEO and domain name availability are part of the conversation."

Domain names?! I don't know why I never thought about that, because I also live in a tech-centric world and it seems kind of obvious now, but it never occurred to me that one would want to check on whether one could get the domain name for something one was considering calling one's child.

And yet, of course you would, wouldn't you? You don't want someone buying it up and turning it into a porn site, after all.

There are also words of caution in the post, which points out that there are advantages to blending into the crowd. If you have a few of those youthful indiscretions that so many of us do (not me, of course), it might not be a bad thing if the archived news stories about them are buried behind ten pages of search results about the many other Muttonchops Wilkins out there.

Maybe your kids would prefer to keep a low profile! Consider that before bestowing upon them a remarkable and unique appellation the likes of which have never been seen on the Baby Name Wizard.

I can certainly see that point.

Fortunately my own youthful indiscretions do not exist, and if they had would have been covered up through judicious bribery, veiled threats and convenient accidental destruction of evidence (I believe exploding robots would theoretically be involved).

Otherwise, my not-terribly-common name would certainly doom me to a life of suspicious sidelong glances.  "Say are you that Muttonchops Wilkins? Hahahahahahaha! I have to go now."

The unusual name can certainly be a mixed blessing. I mean, if you want to go into public life in some way, it can be good since it differentiates you from others. And even if you don't, it at least means you don't have to do much sorting of results when you search on your own name.

On the other hand, you're always spelling and pronouncing it for people, and explaining where it came from and what it means. That doesn't really bother me personally, but I can see how it might get old.

In the end, it's probably one of those cases where there are advantages and disadvantages to both options, and each person--or set of people, if we're thinking of parents naming a child--must make the decision on their own, taking their best guess as to what will be most appropriate in the future.

Should you go with a nice, normal, average name (whatever that means where you are), or a creative, new and different name that will really stand out?

Tough job, when you think about it.


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