Though I hate to bring up the pseudonym argument again, this post is about my own personal reasons for wanting to use my pseudonym on Google+ and why I feel that pseudonyms should be allowed. I have thought about the whole argument for a long time, since joining Google+ as a matter of fact. I’ve been on Google+ since the very beginning and I joined as Technogran, my online name and the name that just about everyone knows me by. I have used that name since first buying a computer all those years ago and my reasons for wishing to use a pseudonym are varied and I won’t bore you by going into them in detail here. As far as I’m concerned my reasons for using my pseudonym hinge on the way that Google+ differs in its intended usage as a social network from for example Facebook, which is its closest equivalent.
Facebook began as a means of socialising in college and keeping in touch. I should imagine its first initial remit was usability by students who either knew one another personally or if not, were in fairly close proximity to one another and therefore could in theory meet up at say a coffee house etc. In other words, its aim was a user base of a fairly close nature as its users would all be students. Now of course it has a user base which is world wide, but how do the majority of us tend to use Facebook now? In my case most of those I share with on Facebook are either family or friends who know me personally and who I can meet face to face any day of the week. The same is true for them also. I know where they live and they know where I live. We might not see each other for months at a time or we might see each other every week, but we all know one another personally. Although I would have loved to also use Technogran on Facebook, I am not so bothered about using my real name on there as the public never see it because my posts on there are for my family and friends only.
Now in contrast, let’s look at how Google+ got off the ground. Google invited lot’s of technically minded and corporate users to the beta of Google+. These people were chosen by Google for a reason. They wanted feedback of course, but I also believe that they did not want or intend that Google+ be a Facebook clone. By selecting a certain type of user such as technology bloggers and journalists, corporate users, professional photographers and those who work in the technology field, they automatically set the tone for how Google + tends to still be used by everyone today, for mainly serious discussion with like minded individuals who share the same interests. For me as a self confessed geek, its has been a wonderful and enlightening experience and I have learned so much from the countless users who are so expert in their own chosen fields of expertise. But, the big question is, do I KNOW any of these people personally?
The chances of me bumping into (for example) Robert Scoble down at my local pub, or seeing Louis Gray in my local Tesco’s and having a friendly chat with either of them is about as likely as this Granny going to Mars. I knew OF them before the birth of Google+ simply because I’m such a Geek and into technology myself. I know of other technology journalists and bloggers as well by name because I read their articles about subjects that interest me. It’s one of the main reasons why I begged for an invite and once on G+ felt so at home. But I don’t know any of them personally. I could recognise them if they passed me in the street because I’ve seen photos and watched videos of them on the internet or in other social sites that they are part of. But knowing OF someone is not the same as KNOWING them. They probably also know me. I’ve maybe commented on their blog posts or joined in a discussion on other sites as Technogran in the past.
So THAT is the big difference between Facebook and Google+ and one of my main reasons for wanting to be allowed to use my pseudonym on there. There is also another reason, the way that Google+ works. If I post and make it public then anyone can read that post and if they are on Google+ they can add me to one of their circles WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. I am well aware that the simple answer to that is don’t post to Public. But is that how Google really want us to use Google+? I could also call myself by my real name (which incidentally is not the one I was born with as that changed once I married) and then only have two circles, one for family and one for personal friends and only post to those two circles. However in doing so, I would be essentially cloning my Facebook usage and so there would be no real reason that I can think of to be on Google+! Besides which I don’t think for one moment that Vic Gundotra and the Google+ team intend us to use Google+ in the same way as any of us tend to use Facebook. The posts I usually make on Google+ are of little or no interest to my family and friends. I know this because I do sometimes post on there with the odd link or some other interest on Facebook and I never get any response whatsoever whereas those in my Google+ circles are usually very interested. In other words, its a whole different audience on Google+.
So, its horses for courses as the saying goes, and on Google+ where none of my audience know me personally and never will, and where by the same token I don’t know them either, I prefer NOT to use my real name but to be able to call myself Technogran which is the name I am commonly known by on the internet. Don’t believe me? Just Google it!