Back in the 1990s when I started doing this interwebs tubes business (well apart from a foray on Janet and e-mail in the 1980s) it appeared to be the done thing not to use your real name. I really started to engage with the web in 1997 and back then the default behaviour was to be mainly anonymous or if you wanted to be identified, you used a “handle”. I remember on the ISP usenet group I frequented I had an identity, but you wouldn’t have known it was me. However by the mid-noughties engaging with a professional body of learning technology professionals, I started to move from anonymity to using my actual name, James Clay. This really started with tools such as Twitter, Flickr and even Facebook! However one core tool for me was using WordPress for my e-learning blog and actually wanting to raise my profile in the learning technology community. When writing on my blog I started to use my real name. Since then I have been “James Clay” on the web and social media.
There is an essence of “celebrity” when being open on Twitter as well as being “on stage” in an arena such as the one we work in, even if it is a narrow field. As a result there are people who genuinely believe that they know us and that we know them, possibly through some interaction in the past, a question during a workshop, or a conversation on twitter. I know I still feel a little unnerved when someone comes up to me at a conference and says hello, I follow you on Twitter. Why I don’t know as I actively curate people to follow me on Twitter by being open and publishing openly. But like Lawie and Paul I am in a privileged position.