At this moment it seems to me as if I am the inventor of this newly esoteric discipline. No doubt I am wrong in this belief -- it has been my experience that beliefs of this type are almost always wrong. So perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that I appear to be one of the early practitioners or pioneers of what may develop into an amusing webside game. And then again, maybe I am the first and only UserName reader, the reason being that ... it amuses no-one quite so much as it amuses me!
The principles of UserName analysis are not difficult to follow. The reason I call it an art rather than a science, is that for the time being at least, it is too free-flowing to be codified. There are so many variables that it is by free-associating rather than anything else that meaningful interpretations can be teased out of names. The main theory behind the art is that unlike birth names, UserNames are chosen by the User.
One of the most frequently asked questions about UserName analysis is:
Supposing I use only my own real name? The answer to this question is: using her/his own name suggests that a User has nothing to hide; has an unusual enough name that it is still usable; started using the web and e-mail in the early years of the century, before that particular name was used by anyone else; is comfortable with his/her own identity; is unafraid, generous and trusting; is exceptionally crafty, because in one sense a real name reveals nothing, since it was the User's parents or Fate who chose it, not the User; is unimaginative. I offer "unimaginative" last rather than first, even though that is the conclusion that most people jump to right away -- however, as I have shown, I believe it isn't all that obvious.
The next most FAQ is: What if I have many different names? The answer to this is: the more names, the better. Each name is a facet of the User's personality, even the most childish and seemingly senseless name is a choice of SOME sort. That's what gives the analysis its spin -- since there is a universe of choices, whatever a User chooses reveals something or the other, even if it is only that the User is interested in the web and wants to use it. Using many different names can suggest that the User is adventurous; insecure; multi-personalitied; recovering from divorce or a change of jobs or partner; uses a number of different web-sites and needs to shed identities in order to avoid being followed (suggesting that she/he may be popular?) or a combination of these effects.
The question that has not been asked yet at all is, How does a NameReader cope with names which are in a language other than the one that the NameReader speaks? The answer to this is: nothing. I am sorry, but I would be unable to read anything in some language other than English. So far I haven't encountered one -- but this is only because, as mentioned above, I am still very new to this art.
And now to general principles. When reading a name my first move is to look for identifiers: lowercase names with no initial capitals immediately suggest web-adepts -- or at the very least, people who wish to appear to be web-adepts. Advanced web-adepts, for instance, may have gone beyond the no-capitals phase and reverted to cautious cap-use. Uppercase names may also suggest that a person is conservative, because she/he is using the typical off-line form. Caps in the middle of a name can suggest that a person is unconventional or trying to be. Or cannot use spaces in her/his log-in name but wants to use two or more recognizable, already-existing words. Letters and numbers and caps together -- a name like 3DZone for instance -- suggest an adventurous spirit, but if the particular choice is common for that sector of the galaxy, then it is only a badge of belonging.
There are very many patterns that I look for, such as rhymes, symmetry, rhythm in the names and -- Scrabble values. I believe that Scrabble players can sometimes be spotted by their use of high-value letters in their names. Using high-scoring letters might suggest either that the person DOES have a high value for her/himself or would LIKE to have a high value. People who like wordplay are more likely than others to use collections of letters which sound like other words or have double meanings.
Names which are made up of words which have standard meanings are most likely to be back-references to features of a person's life, but not always ... My name here, for instance, is "Magnolia Lotus" even though I do not have any special interest in or access to water-dwelling plants or fragrant flowers.
In my belief, a short name may suggest that the user is shorter than average (at least in her/his opinion) the opposite being true of long names. Conversely, a short name may be used by a tall person wishing to reduce her/his physical height and a long name by one who wishes to appear tall. A name made up of letters which do no have ascenders (the lines rising up above the typical "x" height of a particular font-face) suggests to me a user who would like to be discrete and inconspicuous -- this may indicate either that she/he is really shy or that she/he is a well-known person wishing to maintain a low profile. Many descenders in a name suggest ... a well-rooted being? A spy? A ... researcher? Names wholly in "x" height letters suggest to me a smooth operator, a person who likes straight lines and practicality -- short names suggest practicality too, since they are easier/quicker to type in.
What I have outlined above are general principles. While reading a name I look for all or combinations of these features. But I also just sniff hard at a name, turn it around in my mind, taste it, listen to it and think about it, waiting for it to speak to me. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't.
Anyone who would like a try at having her/his name read could leave a note for me here ...