Putting the life back in science fiction

Why heteromeles?
September 21, 2010, 9:15 pm
Filed under: pseudonyms, writing

I’ve actually had this discussion on other blogs, but it’s a good thing to post here.

Why heteromeles? If you googled it, you found that heteromeles is the genus of a California shrub (toyon). Toyon happens to be one of my favorite plants. While a number of nurseries and consulting firms use toyon in their name, heteromeles was basically up for grabs when I started using it.

Why a pseudonym? I found it difficult being a salaried employee of a large corporation or non-profit and writing anything under my own name. Most of the firms I worked for have asserted that they owned all of my creative output (because a salary is allegedly 24/7), and I really didn’t want to have that discussion with HR about some comment or other. Heteromeles became my way of saying my own thing, as opposed to what I do online under my own name, which is much more restrained.

Good idea or bad? I’ve had that argument on places like Dean Wesley Smith’s blog. Some people state categorically that no one who posts under a pseudonym should be trusted. This is a reasonable opinion, and I can tolerate them not trusting me. Still, pseudonymity works for me right now.

What do you think? Pseudonyms or real names? Or is it something that you don’t worry about?


1 Comment so far
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I use (parts of) my real name and different pseudonyms all over the web, and also sign up with unique email addresses if email is required. I don’t do it so I can troll with impunity, but simply because I don’t want to offer a one stop stalking package to anyone with a grudge and 5 minutes of Google-time.

Old-timers from Usenet (IMO) seem to have more of a preference for real names, perhaps because back in the day the Internet was a cozy little club with academics and a very few commercial entities as gatekeepers. But I don’t think “real-looking” names have much credibility over obvious pseudonyms today, given the fact that you can register a domain and launch a new web site on a two-digit budget. Likewise, a poor argument or factual error isn’t improved when the proponent writes it on the back of his Oxford diploma.

Comment by Matt

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