I have an unusual name. All my life I have been well known in whatever community I moved in. In school, everybody knew me but I didn’t seem to know anybody beyond my immediate circle. I wonder how my life might have been different if my parents had gifted me with a more ordinary name.
I thought about starting a blog for sometime. Being a computer geek I started to do something elaborate using Zope but I finally today decided that I should strangle off my perfectionist tendencies and just start writing. Like Woody Allen said, “Ninety percent of success is just showing up.” I thought it more important to just start writing and get something out there than to put up a site with a bunch of bells and whistles. Beside I worried my graphorrhic posts were bringing down the Reason Hit and Run blog and I needed another outlet.
So I wrote one little post and because Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit had been kind enough to mention me in the past I thought I would send him a note telling him I had started blogging as he had suggested. I thought he would see the mail in day or two and send me back a short little “good for you” message.
Fifteen minutes after I sent the mail Reynolds posted a link to my blog and..
…the gates of Instavalanche opened up on my one little post.
It took me an hour to get a sitemeter put on the blog but as of now the site has received 2,692 visits plus however, many hits I got in that first hour. Then I got an invite to join Chicago Boyz.
I learned two things:
First, the internet is about amplification. Tiny fluctuations, the mere flutter of an idea can be amplified into a torrent in a shockingly short period of tme. RatherGate began with one post on Free Republic, the now famous post 47. Within minutes the idea in post 47 spread to hundreds and then thousands of people and within hours to millions. Literally thousands of ideas get tossed out onto the internet every minute but only a few take hold and spread but when they do spread they do so explosively.
Second, I learned that names do matter. As a techno-geek I like to think that function always trumps style. Perhaps in the very long term it always does. But during the short term and at the margins the attention that style brings to a matter can be decisive.
I would like to think that my postings around different sites would have stayed in people’s minds had I not posted under my real name but chosen a pseudonym. Would Elenor Finklestien, Fred Mertz or Borge of the Bungle been invited to join Chicago Boyz? Would Glenn Reynolds have remembered me at all? Even if someone really liked all my posts would they have tied them altogether and linked them to one person without a unique name?
Could the combination of a unique name and internet amplification turn some otherwise trivial observation into a post 47 history altering event?
I think I will try to find out.