Re: My name is not a URL

Posted by Thomas Tue, 31 Mar 2009 14:53:42 +0000

Chris Messina wrote a little blerb over at his blog. I read it shortly after he posted it, and thought to myself, “self, I disagree”. So here we go. :)

Vanity urls don’t seem terribly harmful at first glance, but definitely do seem a bit silly. I can understand that having a global namespace like that quickly leads to collisions, so people are forced to constantly modify whichever handle they prefer. I can also not understand certain things about people on the internet (like why they’d clamor over vanity urls and why most people on myspace choose the absolutely worst, ugliest web design principles possible — yet people love them for it).

The omission of a memorable url for my “home” is definitely a good design pattern, as is easily seen over and over by such intelligent people as Papa Goog and Flickr. Having what is basically a permalink, a static url that forever points to a particular document, photo, or whatever, is a good idea, especially when compared to urls (unlike WordPress’s urls that can change, depending on changes I make to the title of the post). This is a no-brainer. Check.

He makes some more decent points up until:

That everyone on Facebook has to use their real name (and Facebook will root out and disable accounts with pseudonyms), there’s a higher degree of accountability because legitimate users are forced to reveal who they are offline. No more “funnybunny345″ or “daveman692″ creeping around and leaving harassing wall posts on your profile; you know exactly who left the comment because their name is attached to their account.

This is where I really start “not buying it”. First and foremost, I don’t think this is a case of correlation equaling causation. Just because names are unobfuscated doesn’t mean that the quality of the comment/content is automatically driven up. I would argue that there are several reasons why the quality is so much better, completely outside of what I call myself. 1) You can’t leave messages on people’s walls you aren’t friends with. You can’t even see most people’s profiles. This is effectively whitelisting, and it works like a charm. If I don’t know you, or I change my mind and don’t like you anymore, I can block you. Everyone who’s ever read youtube, slashdot, or digg comments can relate. Which begs the question, why doesn’t flickr have this sort of watered-down spam problem? 2) Everyone I’m friends with, I actually know (or like 99%) in the real world. The people I’m friends with are people I have at least some interest in having some sort of conversation with (marginal as that conversation may be). That model builds in un-spammy-ness. Which kind of leads me to… 3) Facebook started out in colleges. And while I don’t know the demographics, I’d imagine that the majority remains in that original demographic, if now only a bit older and gradumicated. I think this also builds in high quality content, due to the fact that the majority went to college, and it’s not some 12 year old from New Jersey commenting like an idiot on Youtube.

Anyway, I’ve tried to read his post a couple of times, and maybe I’m missing the point. I agree that narrowing search scope can be useful in certain circumstances. But I still don’t quite grok how showing funnybunny345′s real name in a chat list or in my email or on a blog post or on twitter significantly increases the value of the content or relationship given that either way I know who that person is. Shouldn’t that be a simple feature of the software to allow me to give an alias to or simply rename the contact in my list to something more memorable?

Unless his whole point is that there are so many sites out there and people are forced to keep evolving their handles so much so that you can’t really remember who funnybunny345 is in real life. And that distinction probably does have value. But gmail and facebook are my primary means of communication, and everyone there has a first name, a last name, and maybe a picture, so perhaps I’ve just not hit that wall yet; that use case of not being able to recall who that person is who just commented on my [whatever]…

Posted in Technology | 1 Comment

The filer

Posted by Thomas Mon, 30 Mar 2009 22:52:39 +0000

is feeling much better after getting a much needed ram swap (it was panicing all the time). And I am contemplating whether or not updating the l7 filtering on my firewall is worth the new kernel + wrecking its 163 day uptime.

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Love Story

Posted by Thomas Sun, 29 Mar 2009 17:12:42 +0000

I meant to note this shortly after it happened, but I kept forgetting. Like maybe a month and a half to two months ago, I swear I had Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” in my head for five days straight.

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I’m back

Posted by Thomas Sun, 22 Mar 2009 19:15:47 +0000

Probably most of you didn’t know that I was out in California, but alas I’m back. Good to sleep in my own bed and drive my own car. The two weeks were stressful, due to projects at work, so it is really good to be back, though the stress won’t likely go away any time soon. The weather there was nice, but a little chilly at times. And I’ll complain that the water pressure in the corp apartments was quite lacking. I didn’t eat at as many cafe’s as I should have, but then again, I’ve eaten at most of them before. All in all a good trip, especially since I did a better job of networking this time, introducing myself to people I’ve only see on video conference or in email.

I have jury duty starting Monday, so that will be interesting. Here’s hoping I don’t oversleep. :)

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Yet another haircut

Posted by Thomas Sat, 07 Mar 2009 18:11:08 +0000

I cannot tell people how to cut my hair to save my life. They get close/decent, but rarely do they do a really great cut. I swear the hair on the top of my head is like twice as long as it should be. It makes me want to fly home just so I can get a decent haircut. Or maybe it’s my hair changing, and it has to be cut differently than before. Man, I was super spoiled by my original barber, who cut my hair for 15 years…

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