For me one of the most important cultural settings with Twitter is the personal focus. I am Richard Gatarski the person. Therefore I changed, after long consideration, from @weconverse to @RichardGatarski.
If you are interested in the technicalities around the switch you may skip the first part and scroll down to ”Changing the twitter user name is easy”.
About my real name
My father Kazimierz Gatarski was born in Poland. In his teen years he moved to England. In 1945 dad sat with his new friend Richard W and shared thoughts about their future. Richard W said that if he ever got a son he would name him Kazimierz. My father immediately returned the favor by saying he would be proud to name his first son Richard, in case he got one. Tragically Richard W died in combat in 1949.
Nine years later I was born. Mother and father discussed names. And as promised 13 years earlier I was given the name Richard. A name that I am proud of. In particular when I consider the reason why. I am also fortunate to have a rather uniqe name in the english/swedish speaking part of the world. Hence it is easy to find me. Of course, it is also important for me to remember that as I go around doing things.
Those of you that know me might remember that many years ago I started to experiment with different identities – on the Internet. Sometimes in order to play trick with services so that they could not connect me as a customer with me as a person. At other times to separate my person from my ventures (e.g. corporations). Weconverse.com is an attempt to manage that of me which concern my gigs and media development. Skolmarknad.info is another one to manage my interest and doings when schools meet the marketing system. (And I have stakes in more than those ;).
When I registered with Twitter for the first time (March 2007) I decided to go for @weconverse, since my idea was to use that identity for experiments in media development/change. Since then I have figured out two things.
- Even though my tweets are focused on my professional side (with some personal spice, never private), I find it hard to limit myself to media matters. In particular, this is a problem as I balance more and more towards how we take care of your children (including their schools).
- At many occasions I have met other people who know about weconverse, but not me (Richard Gatarski). Last time this happened was yesterday at The Really Realtime Conference. Too sad, since I am after all a free lance consultant and find it valuable that you know about me (too).
Weconverse will remain in a limited fashion with it’s established focus. RichardGatarski will emerge more (RichardGatarski.com is under way, more on that laer).
Long name and time
As @sliceonline pointed out today, I have been talking about changing my twitter user name for several months. Two weeks ago, in another blog post (in Swedish), I asked for advice whether to go for rgatarski or richardgatarski (gatarski is taken). Before I published the post I registered the twitter user names ”rgatarski” and ”richardgatarski”. The majority of commenters adviced me to use the shorter version. Mainly because it takes less space – characters are limited in micro blogs.
To make a long and mindful story short, I decided that I wanted to be myself as much as possible on twitter. Rgatarski is not really me, it’s another identity. And as I have explained ”richard” is important – for us I hope. So sorry, from now on we have to be even shorter when I am involved in micro blog posts.
Quite a few other twitterers use a combination of their first and last name. Fewer, it seems to me, end up in using all 15 characters available for a user name.
You are important
Enough about me. I very much care about every other physical person who follow me and/or send me messages. Another big obstacle in this process has been my ignorance about how to change a twitter user name. And what happens when one does change. Now I know more, and want to share what I have learned with the help of others.
Changing twitter user name is easy
In Twitter’s settings panel there is an option to change user name. If you do, the old name is immediately available for anyone to take. Around a month or so ago Kristofer Björkman, a (business) friend of mine, changed from @MyNewsdesk to @ddesk. The former was to become the official twitterchannel for Mynewsdesk.com, the company Kristofer works for. Appareantly he was able to keep his followers. Relief!
Then I googled around a little and found out how to do it. So this morning I:
- logged in to RichardGatarski and temporarily changed that user name to richardxyz
- logged in to weconverse and changed username toRrichardGatarski
- logged in to richardxyz and changed it to weconverse, posted a note about my change, and filled in a profile that hopefylly informs where to find me
- logged in to RichardGatarski and tweeted about the change ”Dear former followers of @weconverse, you are now following @RichardGatarski (and @-send me there)”
The I begun a complicted process in attempt to keep my social things hanging together.
Replies and new followers are harder
There are a lot of ”@weconverse” out there. Anyone who send a message to @weconverse will send it there, not to @RichardGatarski. That means I have to monitor that account and take proper action whenever new messages arrive. I know of no automated services that manage this problem. So, for a while I have to keep en eye there.
Sometimes a twitter savvy person recommend who to follow (e.g. FF-ing). In case anyone from now on recommend @weconverse, that means they will not follow @RichardGatarski. Perhaps potential new followers will check out @weconverse and through its bio decide to go for the ”right” user name. In the case anyone starts following @weconverse, they will get an automated Direct Message to follow @RichardGatarski instead. This is taken care of by the autorespond service in SocialOomph.
The (free) service from SocialOomph will also e-mail me a digestion of messages directed to @weconverse. Interestingly enough the first compilation just delivered contains a lot of older replies to @weconverse. But as said above, I still have to act on that manually.
The social network is a mess
Last night Jyri Engeström ended the Really Real time conference with a high level talk (video at Blip.tv) on identity management and social content. Jyri pointed to many important issues and suggested some useful directions. Still, there is a really delicate and technically complex set of problems unfolding.
I use the Twitter Facebook app to republish my tweets to Facebook.com/RichardGatarski. I have weconverse accounts at Posterous, Bloggy and Jaiku. For the moment I will let them be as they are, but changed at Identi.ca (there are limits to what I manage, and have other things to do). I normally use Ping.fm to publish micro blogs posts to Twitter, Bloggy, Jaiku and Identi.ca. My FriendFeed account weconverse has been renamed to Friendfeed.com/RichardGatarski. Which still imports stuff from some of my other social accounts. At weconvers.com a widget imports the FriendFeed stuff. I have/had to set up Bambuser, Ustream and some other services to autotweet @RichardGatarski instead of @weconverse. By the way, most of my streaming accounts will until further notice remain ”weconverse”. So will the weconverse identities on YouTube, Flickr, you name it…
Do you see how complex my small social network activity is? I am not even sure what works right now. I guess it will take a while until the most important interchanges works.
Changing ones user name on Twitter is easy. But that user’s (identity) and it’s interrelations with a wider range of social networking services quickly become rather complex.
The case described here is about my humble person (and personal brand). Now you may imagine what happens when the issue concerns larger corporations/organizations and all their brands.
There is only one way to go.
Welcome to @RichardGatarski and all your comments :-D