What’s in a Name?

What’s in a name? Spent convictions in the Internet Age.

Paul Clarke’s recent post about naming of offenders and the issues around open data also misses one point of the 21st Century. Lou emphasises the points about names and spent convictions; but I suspect, modern culture, has a much larger but less complicated issue.

Off the top of my head, I can think of at least two friends who after, what is objectively, a minor media incident changed their name. Anecdata suggests that this is getting more popular.

Maybe both Zuckerberg and moot are both right, in some way. You have one identity, but only at a time. Over time, you may have several. Which, in many ways, is how large parts of 4chan work (SFW) – it goes at one identity per thread, but that’s probably a little fast for the real world.

While those who are well-established in their chosen fields are probably strongly attached to their name, there is still a “norm” that, on marriage, women change their name in at least some aspects of their lives. My surname being as it is (Smith), I pretty-much that it’ll be my surname that changes. Elsewhere in the world it is customary for people to have multiple names throughout their lives.

But, fundamentally, to assume that the way this worked 100 years ago is the way it should work now, is somewhat wrong. But that, too, is Will’s point.

I suspect, it’ll take another 10 years for culture to have started to figure this out. So, at the speed of the Justice system; plus the inbuilt 5 year delay for spent convictions, there’s a pretty good chance it’ll be sorted around the time it needs to be. Hopefully it wont be fundamentally incompatible with the world that exists then…

Dec 2011
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