Having an online presence – brand or real name? (and a new Twitter avatar)

I was walking the dog this afternoon whilst listening to the "This week in Google" ??(TWiG) netcast from the TWiT network. ??They were discussing the recent deletion of profiles from Google plus for those people who have chosen not to use their real names online. ??Many of the people who had been deleted (or rather had their profile deleted!) had used the name they had used to build up their online brand, the name that they are known by to their fans and followers.

That started me thinking about my own online identity. ??I've built up a (sort of) brand of my own with a small but significant number of followers on my blog, and a few hundred followers on Twitter. ??I've also used the same user name on websites and forums across the Internet – providing a consistent face across the Internet.

Several months ago I split myself into two personalities – with two different domain names. ??I intended to use my fiendishlyclever domain for education related things, and my robbutler domain for personal postings. ??I created another Twitter ID to do the same on there, and even reverted back to my original GMail account opened using my name as the email address.

I soon stopped using the second twitter account – it's hard enough keeping track of one account, but two accounts with overlapping roles are harder to manage. ??Then earlier this week I tweaked my blog with author details so that Google will display my Google profile photograph next to my search results. That's right – photograph rather than avatar! ??I also changed my Twitter avatar to show a real photograph.

Listening to the TWiG netcast made me question the need for two distinct identities. ??Should I be using my real name everywhere on the Internet? Should I be using fiendishlyclever as my primary identity or should I use a combination of the two?

I'd be interested to hear views on identity on the internet 🙂