In the online world handles and usernames are a sometimes necessity that provide a certain small amount of obfuscation along with an often smaller string to remember a particular person. Back in the early 90’s when I first started seriously to get into the BBS community I went by “Line Noise“. At the time I thought it was perversely cool to have a handle that represented something that was an irritant to just about everyone.
Near the end of high school I got into MUDs (Actually, I think it was technically a MUSH) and found that Line Noise didn’t fit the usual fantasy-land setting and had to come up with something new. After a few false starts (most of which I don’t even remember, though I can say that they were without exception pretty stupid) I hit upon “Glyph“. The idea actually came to me while I was designing a new character that was a stereotypical old dwarf. Small, brown, and heavily wrinkled. At the time I thought it rather inspired to list the character’s description as having a heavily lined and creased face that in some lights almost seemed to look like a long lost language, or at least something very similar. That handle has stuck with me for well over a decade at this point and has been just rarely enough used (and it helps being a relatively early adopter for a lot of sites and technologies) that most of the time I could use it and people would have a decent idea that it was me.
I and the world have been changing over the years though, and now the chances of getting to use my preferred handle/username are getting more and more rare as more and more people find their way into places and I have found myself thinking that it would be nice to have something more unique again. A few years ago I signed up for an account on OkCupid and “Glyph” was already taken so I had to come up with something different. Given the nature of the site, I didn’t want to use my other fall back, “nstohlma” as it is a bit too revealing. After what I remember as a couple of days of thinking about it (though it is just as likely to have been a few minutes of intense thought and brainstorming) I came up with “Cavorter”. At the time it was a interesting play on the domain name that I had been using as my personal page for quite a few years. It is also, like “Glyph” in it’s time, a fairly unusual word and so not used by many. I actually have yet to see anyone else use it, though I’m sure there has to be someone somewhere. I think in large part L-Space is the last place that I will have used Glyph as my primary identifier.
Something else struck me while I was writing all of this up: I wonder about the change from a term that means something relatively static, to a word that means something relatively dynamic and if that means anything. I really have no idea, and it certainly wasn’t intentional.