Last week, I decided it was time to be totally Frank with people and changed my Twitter username from @somewhatfrank to my real name @frankgruber. For those of you that follow me on Twitter you probably saw the update. While some questioned me on making the change others gave it a warm welcome.
Something must be in the air because after switching my name from @somewhatfrank to @frankgruber, I realized that both Chris Messina and Matt Galligan recently switched from their online identities to their real names on Twitter. Chris posted about his name change on his blog. Maybe we should start some sort of support group or something for people teetering on going with their real-names. I just wanted to let you know why I made the change.
First off, I have been writing my blog SOMEWHAT FRANK since 2005, when there were not too many bloggers out there. At the time putting your real name and identity online was not as widely accepted as it is today, in fact the idea was a little scary to many including myself. So to help relieve some of that fear I decided to come up with name for my blog that was not my real name but was a clever play off of my name. Growing up Frank J. Gruber the fifth I went by my initials, F.J., since a little kid to avoid confusion with all the other Frank's in my family. As F.J., I was "Somewhat Frank" up until the time I started writing the blog and due to its popularity, I became known as Frank and have gone by it ever since. I am no longer just Somewhat Frank, I am Frank, thanks to my online persona taking root.
When I joined Twitter in 2006, I used "somewhatfrank" as my name, like I have with so many other online services. I guess I didn't really think Twitter would grow into such pillar of communication where your real-name might be something you would want to use. My Twitter stream has become such a representation of me as it reports my every move. In an age of transparency, I no longer see a reason to continue to hide behind a clever blog name/nickname on Twitter where I am sure to discuss more than just SOMEWHAT FRANK related personal technology.
Secondly, changing my Twitter name to my real name saves characters and in the 140 character format of Twitter every character counts. My old name somewhatfrank is 13 characters while my real name FrankGruber is only 11 characters. This is a precious 2 character savings! This could be the differences between using the words you really want to use in such a restricted form factor.
Third, with Twitter hitting its stride and becoming more mainstream I wanted to make it easier for people to find me on Twitter. Most people would probably search for me as Frank Gruber before they thought to look for somewhatfrank so I just wanted to improve findablity.
Finally, I do quite a few things in life and I am trying to simplify my personal story a bit. From SOMEWHAT FRANK to TECH cocktail to my day job at AIM/Bebo and more, I wanted lead with my real-name rather than the name of my blog. By leading with somewhatfrank as a Twitter handle I found people got either confused or I had to jump into a conversation about my blog, SOMEWHAT FRANK, immediately rather than flow into other conversations. This change will come in extremely handy when I am speaking at conferences too for the same reasons.