W_h_a_t_’_s i_n a n_a_m_e_?

"What's in a name?"
CC licensed Flickr photo by Jack Dorsey

So I changed my Twitter name from @r_o_y_a_n to @royanlee. There was some pretty entertaining banter on the ol’ Twitter stream around, first, the absurdly-annoying-to-type nature of my original handle, and then my change, particularly lead by the mirthful Couros Brigade (@courosa and @gcouros). Here, my Twitterholics, is my explanation.

I first started my Twitter exploration in the spring of 09 thanks really to two tweeps, @danikabarker and @kentmanning. At the time, I wasn’t on Facebook (let alone Twitter), didn’t have an RSS feed, and knew as much about blogging as Your Uncle Joe.

I distinctly remember meeting Danika and being taken by her enthusiasm for technology. I was stunned when she informed me that Kent, a man I had never met, had written about me on his blog:

“And are you on Twitter, Royan?”

“Um, no, I don’t really know much about it.”

“You should really check it out.”

Check it out, I did. I made an account with the username @royan, then promptly forgot both what the password was, as well as which email address I used to create it (to this day, I have no idea how to be @royan, my preferred handle, again). Then, as I continued to traverse the Twitterverse and get my bearings, I went through what is I am sure an all too familiar stage in one’s Twiducation: Intrigue/Fear.

I really want to post, but who’s gonna read it?

Am I arrogant for thinking someone would be interested in any 140 characters I have to say?

Do I want my students, colleagues, administration, and school community to be able to find me on Twitter? Do I even want my family to?

What’s the point of all this?

There were really two main reasons I chose @r_o_y_a_n as my handle. First, I wanted the closest thing to @royan I could find, and thought I was being pretty darn clever with the underscores. Second, I wanted to preserve some anonymity, foolishly thinking that one’s Twitter username really had anything to do with how anonymous one is.

But here is the stage I am at with social media now:

I love it. It’s fun.

It’s one of many things I need to be the best professional I can be.

I don’t want to be anonymous. I want to be me, period. And I want to craft my online persona and Googlability so I have complete control over it.

Although your Facebook or Twitter identity tells the world an immense amount about you, it still isn’t really you. It’s a representation of who you are. This is partly why I have concerns when we exclusively use closed environments such as moodle in education. There is an element to it which is akin to learning how to drive a car using a video game.

A literate young person needs to understand how much control they really do have over their digital footprint, and then practice taking those steps with the help of teachers and peers. What if internet safety actually meant doing what the following Epic Fu episode suggests?

I was fairly surprised to discover how many of my beloved tweeps actually lamented the demise of my old carpal tunnel persona. Sorry guys, live with it, and stick with me. I ain’t changing it again:-)



  1. For years I went by Captain Cocktail..had pretty much every social url locked up. Then one day I decided to change it on everything, including Twitter. I was surprised the reaction I got. People don’t like giving stuff up..even someone elses name.

  2. I went through a similar process. My name is John Spencer, which is pretty damn common. So, I tried jtspencer, J.T. Spencer and now much of what I use is johntspencer (especially on Twitter). I’ve renamed my blog a few times as well. It’s hard to find that place where it fits.

  3. Ya know, it’s funny. You’ve just done something that I’ve been pondering for a while. I, like you, joined Twitter without knowing much about it, and not knowing what would happen with it. I picked the @baded thing kinda as a joke. Now for the last while, I’ve been contemplating a change in the handle…. hmm… You may have just started something. My thoughts are exactly the same as the things that you’ve outlined.

  4. Great blog post! I can totally understand why you wanted to change your name, and one day, I think that I may do the same for very similar reasons too. Whether @royan, @r_o_y_a_n or @royanlee, I’m still glad you’re on Twitter because I love learning with you and consider you a very important part of my PLN!

    Aviva (@grade1)

  5. I have to say I was one who called you on peer pressure on changing your Twitter name. I’ve been thinking a lot about the name change and the photo changes too. Since you did your name change a few of our colleagues changed their photos to characters. (i.e, ALF) This was funny and a few people jumped in to changed their photo or avatar. As a reader I found this a bit alarming. No longer could I open Tweetdeck on my phone and do a quick scroll to locate my favourite Tweeps. My brain associated a specific photo to a name and person. My brain was trained to quickly recognize the black and white photo of you and the ski photo of Colin. I had to retrain my brain to look for the red and black photo and the Alf character. It made me wonder if that’s how young readers feel when they are learning sight words. Does the word change if the font is different, if it’s written in a different colour. I was thinking about finally posting a photo by my Twitter name, even though I HATE photos of myself. I heard what Alec said about how our personal identify is now on line. I am hesitant to post a picture because I know certain readers have come to quickly identify the teel colour in the background of my avatar and know the tweet is from me. If I change that will I lose some readers? This avatar change and name change has me reflecting on our immediate recall and how readers process information. How will this information help me teach my young readers how to ‘read’ online and in various places. The words/information doesn’t change but the look, font, format, colour and design might. It’s a wonder children learn to read at all!

    I’m use to your photo now and will adapt when you get bored and change it again!


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