I recently received a couple of invites to be a friend to someone whose name I did not recognize. I get these from time to time and they are usually spam bots. The name seemed familiar, so I clicked through and there was my cousin’s face smiling at me on facebook. She had used the surname Mansfield, which is an old family name on my mother’s side. The Mansfields were an interesting branch to the family and we have a diary written by one of my ancestors. It is from the 1830s and is mostly a list of disasters like train crashes, steam boats exploding and large city fires. My cousin used her own first name, but used the Mansfield surname to hide her real world identity.
My real name is scattered all over the internet, sometimes in places I would rather not think about. I wrote shareware in the 1980s and many of my programs were quite famous. I received a shareware writer of the year award back in the 90s. My program txt2com allowed someone to take a text file, wrap a reader around it and then compress it. The file was self contained and not easily altered. It was used for bomb making recipes, really dreadful porn and many other things that I did not know about. The bad thing was that my name was embedded in the file as the copyright owner of the software. I was not the owner of the contents. Searches on my name find some dreadfully bad stuff attributed to me.
In the world of the internet, I have been writing articles about harmonicas, science fiction, and web development since 1993. Yahoo shows 53,000 pages with Keith P. Graham on them.
I was thinking that it might be better to assume a Net-Name like Keith P. Mansfield to protect myself. It is like closing the barn door after the horse escaped, but in the future it might make a difference.