I’m quite skeptical of living one’s life in the kind of total public view the Web makes so easy. But in my consulting practice I also advise on the technology of marketing brands, companies, products and services. And therefore I need to gain and upkeep know-how, conduct experiments and continually get hands on impressions of evolving web marketing trends, techniques and technologies. But if I don’t want to market my own persona, and also not conduct early experiments with the brands or businesses of my customers, I need another outlet.
However, setting up something entirely fictitious wouldn’t only be a bit misleading / unfair to the people who would bump into such a fictitious entity or brand, but it would also be somewhat of a waste. So I didn’t find that very attractive.
So for quite a while I’ve taken to do these types of experiments using the legitimate and very honest context of my hobbies. I use different personae (“brand names”) for different hobbies. This allows me to learn in realistic settings and makes my hobbies also a little useful for my business.
So far I’ve attempted to prevent cross referencing my real name with my different Internet personae, mostly because it might prove misleading for potential customers of mine to see my name very widely attached to my hobbies, but so little to my business and professional self. And my friends, who know the cross reference have continually respected this desire of mine. That says a lot about what amazing friends I’m lucky to have. So the disconnect on the Web still exists as far as I know. This approach has turned out to be not only much more fun (I like my serious work also to be enjoyable), but also more respectful to search engines and the people who use them. One day somebody (or even me) will probably create the connection such that search engines will figure out the relationship between the various identities and that will be ok – at least I hope!
In the meantime I’m merrily using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques for my hobby alter ego’s and related interests and causes, but not for my real name.