When I started this sporadic blog back in January 2005, comic book bloggers preferred unusual names for their blogs instead of using their actual names (in contrast to today when the advice is to own your domain name so that you can control your brand). I’m not sure why this was, but it made sense when everyone else was doing it and it added to the sense of community that existed. There was also a certain charm and inventiveness to the names (Progressive Ruin, The Invincible Super-Blog, The Hurting, Fortress of Soliloquy, Post-Modern Barney, The Absorbascon, Double Articulation, Delenda Est Carthago, Polite Dissent, The Johnny Bacardi Show, among many others), even if you eventually knew the blog by the author’s name (or didn’t in the case of people who preferred pseudonyms, such as the original comic book blogger, Neilalien).
Although I’ve never been a sufficiently prolific (or even prominent) blogger, I did read those early articles about owning the URL of your actual name and wonder about buying www.davidnorman.com; however, even back then, my name had already been taken by a German-based illustrator/storyboarder (artists and designers were very quick to adopt the web as an excellent form of portfolio), so the option was eliminated before I could worry about it.
At the time, I thought it was an odd coincidence that there was someone else out there on the internet with my name, because I was under the misguided illusion that my name was quite rare: I had never met anyone else with the same name, and I grew up thinking it was unusual to have a name that was made of two forenames. However, the internet has now destroyed that simplistic notion and I have discovered that I’m fairly Google-proof because there are so many other David Normans in the world.
Wikipedia lists an Australian rules footballer, a businessman, an ornithologist (who has a website of his own, connected with the Merseyside Ringing Group), a Canadian soccer player, a palaeontologist, and a cricketer as David Normans worthy of having an entry; there is also an actor with very few entries on IMDb. Using Google to look for name-based websites, there is a landscape gardener, a painter, and a very tech-savvy pastor in the US who is also on Twitter.
Mentioning Twitter brings me to another point – David Norman the pastor has to use @david_norman because I must have got there first with @davidnorman, thus ensuring that there are a lot of David Normans out there who probably don’t like me because they had to find other variations for their Twitter account. In particular, I wonder about the David Norman mentioned in this article in the Guardian – I got a shock when I was reading the newspaper itself and there was a picture of a man I didn’t recognise with my name underneath it – who would seem to be a notable chap yet has to use @tcfdan, and he has many more followers than I do. He is one of many who have had to mix numbers and extra letters instead, including: @davenorman, @1DavidNorman, @DavidNorman1, @davidnorman2, @DavidNorman10, @DavidNorman13, @DavidJNorman, @davidknorman (among many others – there is a huge number if you search for David Norman). I have been very lucky: I even have my own name for my Gmail account (I have been on Blogger since 2002, so I got an invite to join Gmail the year after Google acquired Blogger); I have received many an email from people trying to contact their David Norman who have used my numberless address instead of the appropriate number/letter permutation.
Despite being an early adopter of Gmail and Twitter, and blogging irregularly for the past seven years, I am still hard to find using search engines, which is fine by me – I wouldn’t have called this blog Clandestine Critic if I weren’t comfortable with the concept of anonymity (although this blog is the first hit when searching for ‘clandestine critic’). No, I’m happy being one of many; nobody will be confusing me for anyone else because there are too many of us. I won’t have to regularly remind people the way Warren Ellis has to regularly do on Twitter:
Hello. I am the British writer Warren Ellis, not the Australian musician Warren Ellis who works with Nick Cave. Sorry about that. Bye.