We now live in the age of the search engine. A name
should be distinct enough so that one's publications
can be found on the web with a simple key word search.
With a name like Thomas Gray, someone searching for me
will find the famous poet, multiple admirals, a
physicist in Kansas ,a computer science professor in
Scotland, a potter, a wind energy expert in Ohio, a
judge and a DA in Texas, Cyndi Lauper's guitarist,
numerous business types and me.
A common name can breed anonymity so a middle initial
could be a very good idea.
--- "Rickard A. Parker" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Tom, why not use a pseudonym for your papers? I
> suggest you use
> Thomas Q. Stratton, although an X. or a Z. would
> work nicely too.
> This way you really stand out. Say you are at a
> conference and are
> asked your name, even if you just give your first
> and last name I bet
> you will be asked next if you are THE Thomas Q.
> Stratton. You'll have
> a real conversation starter. Web searches would
> find your work easily
> but you would still have some anonymity because the
> mapping from the Q
> to your real middle name would be difficult. Plus,
> the name would
> still stand out if the publishers wanted to reduce
> all names to
> initials: T.Q. (Total Quality) Stratton.
> Here is what my parents did when naming the children
> -- we were given
> two given names, each middle name could be used as a
> first name. The
> intials were to be R. and A. (and thus books,
> camping gear, etc. could
> be labeled "R.A. Parker" and handed down and still
> be correct.) My
> mother would name the boys and my father would name
> the girls but they
> had veto power. The names of my brother and my
> sister are of ambigous
> gender even to the spelling (something I don't
> Despite my unusual first name (for the U.S. anyway)
> I use my middle
> initial fairly often. My father vetoed my mother's
> first choice of
> name for me, Richard, because that was his name and
> he hated the
> thought of having to hear the older neighbors say
> Dickie again. So
> with Rickard they would be more likely to use Ricky.
> Anyway, when I
> was old enough to start getting mail I started to
> use my middle
> initial so correspondents would use it in their
> replies. That was
> because Rickard was misspelled often enough as
> Richard that we would
> have something to use to help separate our mail.
> All mail to Mr. and
> Mrs. Richard Parker was definitely for him to open
> but there has been
> a long term side effect: since my wife kept her name
> most mail to both
> of us comes doubly addressed. When I get mail to
> Mr. and Mrs. Rickard
> Parker I pause slightly before opening it because
> the addressing is
> strange though when the mail comes misspelled as Mr.
> and Mrs. Richard
> Parker there is a really long pause as I'm still
> conditioned to that
> being my parent's mail.
> Rick Parker
> P.S. - From the Wikipedia article on Harry S.
> Truman did not have a middle name, but only a
> initial. It was a common practice in southern
> states, including
> Missouri, to use initials rather than names.
> Truman said the
> initial was a compromise between the names of
> his grandfathers,
> Anderson Shipp(e) Truman and Solomon Young. He
> once joked that
> the S was a name, not an initial, and it should
> not have a
> period, but official documents and his
> presidential library all
> use a period. Furthermore, the Harry S. Truman
> Library has
> numerous examples of the signature written at
> various times
> throughout Truman's lifetime where his own use
> of a period after
> the "S" is very obvious.
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