I finally recovered my WordPress blog from one of their famous “upgrade” accidents. Things to note: Always log out of WordPress everywhere before you hit the upgrade button.

This is difficult for me, seeing as I use around thirty computers on a daily basis, including a couple of handheld devices, and since some are at home and some are at work, it’s really hard to keep track of where I might still be logged in. And there’s no (at least not that I’ve found) button on in the admin area to log out everyone who’s logged in (that would just be me, but about thirty times). So every other maintenance upgrade I seem to lock myself out and have to determine whether it’s worth the effort to recover manually or just wait for the next upgrade.


I’ve been asked a couple of times in the past two or three weeks how to maintain public and private online identities. Also I’ve seen a couple of questions about what to do when your mother gets a twitter account and asks to follow you. Related questions.

It’s not lost on me that these questions would have been spectacularly meaningless a couple hundred years ago. Except for, you know, authors and criminals. And maybe the Scarlet Pimpernel. You only had the one identity unless you were up to something, and most likely up to no good. Now we have so many (more or less) legitimate identities that we can have them stolen or can carelessly mislay them. Someone who gets ahold of our True Name (or at least one of the truer names) can righteously fuck us up.

(As a side note I’ll mention that the future seems to more closely resemble fantasy than science fiction, or syfy, as it has come to be known. Amulets and talismans and potions and magic jewelry and faerie mistresses — that’s where to invest your money. Bestowals of curses and blessings and paying for the removal of the inconvenient ones, trapping souls in jars, deals with spirits and demons … keep an eye on that market.)

So it’s not really surprising to me that my answers to these questions lie in the dead (or never truly living – heh) fields of sorcery and necromancy. Oh. And the related field of marketing.

I write under at least one penname. It’s not a big secret deal. It’s a branding thing. It allows me to rant and rave and be an asshole in public without (directly) bringing shame to my parents and my family name. It allows me the risk of writing tripe and, when (or if) my skills improve, the ability to cut it all free to flap away into the past and establish a new, higher quality brand.

That’s how I construct identities. I build them like I’d build shamanic masks. I feel it when I put them on and take them off. It helps me keep track of them all.

I have a writing identity or two or three, some of which I wear in public places for the sake of making contacts and building publicity. A private identity I use (or reserve, as I don’t use it much) for the purposes of talking to close friends. Another formal identity for talking to family and friends of family from which I would like the ability to keep a few secrets, for their sakes as well as mine. A super-private identity for saying the things I’d only say to myself — but wouldn’t mind a complete stranger overhearing. A throwaway identity for registering with information sites I don’t care about, with a similarly throw-away password. A firmly guarded identity for financial and utility online accounting, but one I share with the wife for maintaining our accounts. A work-related online persona for being an official face of the company. An admin identity for controlling and monitoring the business’s technology infrastructure. A sub-identity to share with venders who might need access to help maintain business infrastructure for me.

Not everyone needs the entire suite. People with a strong online fantasy life might need a few more. But separating the functions of the identities into categories before you have to backtrack too much will help tremendously. And building the identites the way you’d consciously take on any important project — making lists and notes, drawing charts and sketches, choosing a Power Animal, etc. — is totally worth all the effort you need to expend.

Sites make it tough by establishing bogus arbitrary requirements and restrictions for account names and passwords, but if you tie the ones you have to remember to the mental image of the face you have to put on to interact there, it’ll be easier to remember. It’ll at least reduce it to a limited number of guesses for each login page if you can’t remember outright. And it will tremendously reduce the clean-up if one of the identites is compromised.


March 29, 2009 · Posted in Everything Else