These last few days have seen quite the interest in who scored which vanity URL from Facebook. Outside some commercially styled or really geek usernames (default.aspx an example – et al) most are true to their owner’s identity. That is assuming that you had a name that was uncommon enough across the millions of Facebook users that you could land your firstname.lastname or some other common combination or concatenation. If you are lucky (or unlucky enough) to have a more common name, you likely wound up with a whateverX username. Not very vanity nor very unique and in many ways, much like the email systems that made many pre-social networking users feel so very “non person”. One of the things that I remember hearing from non geek friends when they started into Facebook and the other systems was that they were now themselves online “Bob Jones” not jones.robert10. It seems that those days are slipping away. Where once there was a database reference ID of ten digits making everyone unique, now there are a string of characters that has taken us back to what it seems that social networks were helping us move away from. This generification of identity on social networks could be a good thing – it can help ensure that you are able to contact the right Bob Jones, when you need to get something done, or as one of my tweeps does find out about/contact babysitters.
If for whatever reason you want to, or need to change your name, you can’t right now. So that makes choosing your username somewhat difficult. Especially for those with an established online identity. So for myself, as much as I wanted to get /idarknight, I went with /boora. Why? Well, if/when someone is looking for me and they are facebookcentric, they are as likely as not, not going to know my idarknight handle, they will be looking for /boora. If Facebook ever allows secondary URLs, I”ll be sure to catch that one, but in the mean time I have the “old school” vanity URLs covered – boora.ca, idarknight.com and idarknight.ca.
So why is all this of any interest to anyone? Outside of the once or twice a month when you are looking to add some new contact to your Facebook contacts when you are sorting through which Bob Jones from your town you are actually looking at especially when they all haven’t put anything with their real face on their profile, are you ever going to use that URL? I don’t know. But if Facebook wants their service to be more than just a website, it might fit into that plan. It might also be another attempt to get some attention away from Twitter who has done the twitter.com/user for quite some time now (at least in ‘net years).
I’m certainly not the only one thinking about this, others include Wired (again), Silicone Beat and GigaOM.