Thursday, July 9, 2009

I changed my name (in Facebook)

I had not been doing much with Facebook, but since I was pondering issues with names, I decided to go in and see what I had used for my name when I had claimed my Facebook profile (whenever that was, maybe a couple of years ago.)

I had in fact claimed Jack Krupansky as my name in Facebook. No surprise there. That is how most people know me.

But the more I thought about it, I decided that I needed some way to also be findable as John W. Krupansky.

I browsed through all of the options and settings and found where Jack Krupansky was set as my "real name." Hmmm... real name. I hadn't paid attention before.

While I was thinking about whether to change my "real" name in Facebook to John William Krupansky, I browsed some more and notice that Facebook also had an optional "Full Alternate Name." I went ahead and entered John William Krupansky as my full alternate name. Done.

Oops... I thought about it for a few more seconds and realized that I had my names backwards. I should have used John William Krupansky as my real name and Jack Krupansky as my full alternate name. That actually makes more sense. Done.

I would be more comfortable with just my middle initial when my name is used in general and then show the full spelling if someone looks at my profile, but Facebook does not give my any such option.

Unfortunately, the entire Facebook UI refers to me as John rather than Jack. Too bad they don't recognize formal and nick names and let you pick whether to default to formal or nick names. Actually, I'd rather have Facebook refer to me as Mr. Krupansky, just to make it clear what a subservient role the software real has. Facebook serves me. Facebook is not my friend.

Now that I have done all of this I realize another issue... findability in Google. My primary interest is professional in nature, so I would prefer that other professionals be able to find me as they know me, which is Jack Krupansky. But, by using John William Krupansky as my Facebook "real" name, my professional name on Facebook is not directly findable. Now I am thinking that I should set my "real" name to Jack Krupansky and my "alternate" name to John William Krupansky. But I'll think about this for more than a few seconds before changing it. Thinking... Done thinking. Changed. So, now my Facebook "real" name is back to Jack Krupansky and my "alternate" name is John William Krupansky. Logically that is backwards, but practically it should work better.

My Facebook profile is here:

Now, I need to go in and make sure I have LinkedIn set in a similar manner, if possible.

Twitter? Now there's a lost cause. Maybe they'll let me set my name properly when they figure out what they want to do in life.

Oh, and while I was at it, I found an Ivan Krupansky over in Slovakia to add as a friend. And he has a friend Jakub Krupansky (with an acute accent over the "y", which I do not know how to enter in an emailed blog post) who I also added as a friend. Whether either of them is even a distant relative is unknown. Do we really have the same last name if one uses a diacritical mark?

Now, I need to think some more about a sensible model for formal and informal names in the Semantic Web. It will be awhile before I get to the stage of addressing cultural difference in how names are used. That is all the more reason to strip the textual representations of names out of Semantic Web data and use a URI to reference the person rather than a culturally-dependent textual representation.

I need to take a look at the FOAF (Friend Of A Friend) vocabulary specification to at least use that as a starting reference point for name handling in the Semantic Web. Ditto for the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set. I do not think either will get me very far, but I at least need to cover those bases.

-- Jack Krupansky


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