Facebook, the Island of the Lotus-Eaters

Last night I watched Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief on TV.  (Beware, spoilers ahead.) This moderately-entertaining movie cleverly incorporates a number of elements from Greek mythology.  One of them is the island of the lotus-eaters, reimagined as a casino. Percy Jackson and his two sidekicks need to visit this casino to look for a special, hidden jewel.  At the casino, they are persistently offered and keep consuming some unusual, mind-altering appetizers.  The addictive hors d’oeuvres make them forget why they were there and what their mission was.  After a long time they manage break out of their stupor, retrieve the jewel, and resume their quest. Sometime after watching this scene, I was struck by the realization that Facebook is...

A Solomonic Response to Username Disputes

In recent months, I’ve read of the following scenario playing out on a couple of different occasions [1]: Person “So-and-So” chooses “CleverName” as their username on social-media service “Socialr” [2]. CleverName is So-and-So’s favorite pseudonym, a word or phrase with a personally-significant meaning. So-and-So starts using Socialr, and over a period of time builds up a digital identity on Socialr, an identity whose name, content, history, and reputation are associated with username CleverName. Some time later, a little-known company, “Company X”, comes along and wants to create an account on Socialr. That company happens to be named or have a product named “CleverName”. Company X asks Socialr to take username CleverName from So-and-So and give it...