Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Identity in the age of the Internet
What is it with .com domain names that reflect our names? I'm still mad at someone (maybe myself) for having let mihail.com expire. I had especially registered that so that one day if I was no longer affiliated with a company (like I am with Blogit today), I'd have my own spot on the Internet. I'd have my photos and blog and online stuff on it.
We do all love our stuff. Our garage speaks to that. Our attic above the garage speaks to that. Our neighbor's garage (and even front yard!) speaks to their stuff. We're a nation (nah, world) of hoarders. We love to hold on to things that remind us (of a better time? our youth?).
But it is more than that. I think it is also about our identity. In today's world, our Gmail email addresses (for some reason, not our Hotmail ones) and .com domain names provide that identity. Thus the rush to make sure you were the first mihail (I wasn't) or the first mihail lari (I am) on Gmail. People were willing to pay $100+ to get in on that in the first few days.
And now comes this news that before the Vatican could register www.BenedictXVI.com, someone else had. Although he's just being smart about it and getting his 15 minutes of web-based fame. Actually, does the idea of 15 minutes of fame even work any more if Google will keep all the news that's fit (or not fit) for print in its depths (Google's got a big attic in Mountain View) for the rest of your life? That is compression/extension of time like we haven't seen ever before.
Back to my initial reason for writing this. According to this Washington Post story on how one man beat the Vatican to registering the name of the new pope:
That's because a St. Augustine, Fla. man, Rogers Cadenhead, registered the address BenedictXVI.com on April 1, hoping that would be the name of John Paul II's successor. To cover his bases, Cadenhead, 38, also registered ClementXV.com, InnocentXIV.com, LeoXIV.com, PaulVII.com, and PiusXIII.com.
..."I never really registered it with the intent of making money, and I think to crassly auction it would be a sin of some kind. ... Whatever decision I make will be guided by the desire not to make 1.5 billion people mad at me...including my grandmother," he said.