This sort of ties in with my post yesterday about the lack of awareness of the blogosphere in the UK.
Jay Tea was talking today about his online persona (Jay Tea, of course, being his nom de plume), and those of his contemporaries. He mentioned, for instance, that the Powerline guys decided to drop the stupid nicknames as they emerged more and more into the media spotlight. It's a common story.
What many of us failed to consider when we took up blogging was that one day it would be well on the way to being a respectable branch of the media. When I started at the beginning of 2003 I didn't even know what a blog was. I'd stumbled on a few during my travels around the Internet, but I never realised it was any kind of movement. Few could have imagined the meteoric rise we're experiencing.
This has caused problems. As many bloggers are now becoming media personalities in their own right they must be beginning to regret the decision - made, undoubtedly, late one Tuesday night several years ago as they set up their first Blogger account - to give themself a cutesy name that seemed funny at the time. Pajamas Media, as you may have noticed, have spotted the problem early - before they build the brand - and are busy picking a new name. They see the way the wind is blowing, and they don't want to get bogged down with a name that precludes them from serious debate on a national level. Good for them. It's like a parent wanting to name her unborn son Bobo Jonny Hulkman, and then having a last minute change of heart and picking Jack. Sure, it's a less exciting name but he probably won't get pantsed as much at school. The problem for the rest of us is that it may be too late to change ours. We've been living in ignorant bliss of our silly names for the past few years, but we're about to start school and the bullies are practising their atomic wedgies and purple nurples.
As this medium we work in is largely faceless, our name is our identity. You have to ask whether a blogger receiving a million hits a day would fare so well if you suddenly took away the brand name he spent years creating and became just Jeff from Arkansas. Cause that's all we're building here. We call it credibility but it's really just a brand. Instapundit, Wizbang - hell, Daily Kos. Without the brand they're just guys in front of a screen again. Same goes for the reporters at the Wall Street Journal. You send them to work at the National Enquirer, they're dirt on the sole of your shoe. They lost the brand name. Game over. Please try again.
I often regret choosing the name Sortapundit for this site. At the time I wasn't aware of the glut of other ***Pundits inhabiting the blogosphere. Many more have popped up since I took the moniker, but there must have been at least a few when I made the decision. Now I'm saddled with the problem that when I write something that receives attention I don't make any long term gains from it. Any readers discovering the site through a link from, say, Glenn Reynolds won't come back regularly because I get filed in their memory as one of the 'pundits'. Or maybe it's because my writing sucks and I'm not funny. Can. Worms. I'm steering clear.
What was I talking about? Oh yeah, brand name. Individual bloggers and their ridiculous nicknames aside, the broader issue is the word 'blog' itself. It catches in my throat whenever I'm forced to say it - like I'm trying to cough up fish hooks or something. It just sounds stupid. 'Blogosphere' - now there's a word that had it's lunch money stolen every day (thanks a lot, Bill). Blogosphere was the vice-president of the AV club and had a superfluous third nipple. It got beat up every morning like clockwork. By it's sister. Trust me.
The point, I suppose, of this rambling, incoherent post is this: if we want to play with the big kids we have to start using grown up names or start buying wedgie-resistant underwear.