Names have power. Your name, handle, nickname, call sign, userid, email address, IM ID, identifies you. There's a reason we call it an ID.
A name you choose for yourself has even more oomph. My mother named me Vicki, but; I choose to call myself Vicki. I don't have a nickname. (When it comes to choosing an online identity, e.g. for a Second Life avatar, I'm stymied.)
My email ID is vlb. I've been using it for so long, and am so comfortable with it, that I chafe at companies that assign me something else. When I can, I request an alias. When I can't... well, I didn't work there for very long.
I can't remember your ID. Could you change it to something easy for me to remember?
Years ago, back when the Internet was still mostly undiscovered by the rest of the World, an friend of ours asked me to install an email alias for myself as vicki.brown@... After all, he said, firstname.lastname is a standard in a lot of companies. "And besides", he added, "I can never remember your address."
I'm sorry to admit that I bought the argument and installed the alias.
Shortly thereafter he asked for an update. "I can't remember how to spell your name", he said. "Could you put in an address for viki.brown too?"
I declined. There are limits.
I hit another limit today at my Job. We use IRC (internet Relay Chat) for inter-group communication. IRC is more anarchic than, say, most Instant Messaging programs. IRC allows people to pretty much decide what they want to be called and they can change their "nick" at will. To reduce confusion in work communication, we've been using a pretty simple guideline:
Pick a name you like and stick with it. Document your IRC ID in the team directory.Occasionally, people change their nicks just for fun. We've never made a fuss about it and the change is usually fleeting.
Aside from the ability to look everyone up in the directory, the IRC program makes it very easy to know who you're chatting with. My client, Colloquy, allows me to set up a Buddy List (nothing unusual there) and to choose whether to show buddies by their chosen nick, "given" nick, or their full name (First and Last). If I control-click on a name, I can run "Get Info" and see the full name, where the person logged in from, and how long they're been active (or idle). If you don't have a GUI client, there's always the /whois command.
You may be wondering where all this is going... Apparently, some people where I work have complained that they don't know who everyone is in IRC. They don't recognize all the nicknames and they don't remember (or don't want) to look in the directory. This "problem" was raised in our local discussion email list today. And the managerial response?
Everyone should use an ID that's easy (for me) to remember.
Considering that I thought "pick one and stick with it" was on the skirting edge of appropriate requests, I am discomfited by the idea that everyone should change their IRC nick to be more in line with one person's arbitrary standard. The worst part of this whole kerfuffle is that I've been personally identified as a shining example of The Right Way To Do It. My chosen "nick" in IRC is Vicki. That's not because I thought it would be easy to remember. It's more because that's what I'm familiar with.
I'm downright appalled that I'm being considered as the model of "Best Behaviour" in this regard, simply because I wasn't imaginative enough to choose something less mundane than my first name. shudder
Names have power. Support Your Right To Choose.