My first couple computers (TRS 80 and Commodore 128) led very solitairy lives. Though they had the constant company of a human companion, they lacked the familiar company of their own kind. I wonder if they longed for a form of communication that didn’t require a fur-less primate jabbing his fingers at a keyboard.
To foster computer to computer community, I purchased my first Modem for my third computer, an Amiga 500. Not content to slap on just any modem, I shelled out the big bucks (in 1 dollar bills from tips bagging groceries) for a 1200 baud modem. That’s a full four times faster than the laggard 300 baud modem my loser friends were using at the time.
It didn’t take long before I was a member of every bulletin board on the island (Guam). Then again, it doesn’t take long to join two or three boards. Surprisingly, Guam actually had more BBS systems running out of people’s homes than you’d think. I was a co-sysop of one board for a short while.
When signing up for a BBS (Bulletin Board System) membership, it was essential to choose a good handle. Now you might mistakenly associate a handle and a login as the same thing. But you’d be way off base. Way off base. A handle was much more significant than a measly login. It was your identity in the interconnected ASCII based world of the BBS. A well chosen handle was a reflection of your personality, or lack thereof.
Think Top Gun. He didn’t go by the moniker “TomC1962” he was freakin’ Maverick! How lame would a trucker feel if she was known as Ellie32. No way man. For those long lonely rides on the freeway, a trucker needs a handle with character and panache. Something that generates r-e-s-p-e-c-t. When you get on the CB, you’re talking to “Storm Chaser” and “Rusty Nail”, not some lame ass “JohnD” or “JaneD” (no disrespect if that really is your handle).
So back in those days I went by the handle “Dragon”, assuming it was available. I felt it was a good reflection of my east-meets-west heritage and love for LOTR. Of course every geek boy with a modem was after that handle, so I started going by “Falcon”, in reference to my favorite fighter jet, the F-16. I couldn’t be content with the handle “Dragon_Int64.MaxValue”
Nowadays, this concept of the “blogosphere” evokes some of the same feelings that the early days of the BBS craze (if you could call it that) did. Part of that feeling is rooted in the use of handles by some bloggers I know. For example, you might say Dare’s handle is “Carnage4Life”. Eric Porter dons a cape and parse tree and becomes the Human Compiler. Robert Scoble sprinkles his link juice (rel=”please do follow”) across the blogosphere because he is… (cue dramatic music) The Scobleizer.
And my handle? Well it should be obvious that it is “Haacked”. It’s basically a play on my last name, “Haack” (pronounced “hack”). So if I post as Haacked in your blog’s comments, it’s not to hide my identity. It’s merely a nod to a bygone era in online history. Just a small way to add a little flavor to an otherwise boring world of bits and bytes. It’s not my goal to hide the fact that my real name is … *transmission ended*