Who is Google to tell me who I am?

I am penwing.

I am also Alex Lambert.

Reluctantly, I am Mr A M Lambert.

Professionally, I am Alex Lambert, Advisor.

In shorthand, I am AML.

I am all of these people. I use all of these names. All of these people are me. Whether I like it or not.

The point is, there are lots of identities I use - the list above is not exhaustive or static. All of them interact with, inform and conflict with each other. The biggest conflicts being between penwing and Alex Lambert - the flirting curtailed by fear, the desire to change the world dampened by the fear of failure.

I'm not actually all that fond of Alex Lambert. He was closeted. He was bullied. He's negative. He's cautious. He's scared. He's a killjoy.

Unfortunately, he's the strongest influence on my offline life.

penwing is explorative. He's inquisitive. He's positive. He's flirtatious. He's never been closeted. He's never been bullied.

penwing is definitely a online creation. However, when I go to conventions I do so with penwing as my badge name. I make little effort to hide the connections - an advantage of living in the society I do. I don't hide the fact that penwing has an offline name and identity of "Alex". Sometimes I may even blur the identities - hence signing off here with "Alex x x" - but I think those things might change.

penwing is who I have always been with Google but Google+ is not happy with that. It's "real" name policy is forcing me to be Alex Lambert. Well, screw that. Google does not get to dictate who I am or who I want to be. So I started off by just taking Google at their word that Google+ is an identity service not a Social Network and deleted all my circles but conversation led to me thinking more about identity and all this - which I tried and failed to write down before - and then to deleting Google+ and my Google Profile completely. Sure, I still use Gmail, Google Calendar and Google reader and I'm linked in via my Android phone. But I can control my identity better without Google Plus. I can remain penwing.

But, I hear you cry, what about Facebook? Facebook demands your real name (but they don't seem to police it as aggressively nor have the power to severely disrupt other services) and I gladly use it on there. When I joined Facebook it was when you still needed a university email address. It was clearly designed as an extension of the offline identity into an online service - not particularly a place for an online identity.

penwing knows this post isn't perfect; doesn't cover everything he wants to say; hates the third person aspect of some of it. But penwing wants to say it. Maybe it'll allow penwing to get a better control...

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