UNI SP4 Study Period 4 2014

WEB101 What's in a name

Web Communications 101: Communication and Collaboration Online : Week One

Module 1 - What’s in a name?


As this is the first week of the unit, on-campus students will likely be familiarising themselves with each other and with the course content in the tutorial. For online students, we suggest that you too take this opportunity to introduce yourself on the boards and browse through the course content, with particular attention paid to the assessments and the dates they are due.

There is, however, one very straight forward activity this week. Everyone should complete the activity before this week’s tutorials (if you’re an internal student) or online discussion (if you’re external or an OUA student).

Activity - Thinking about Usernames

Throughout this unit (and subsequent Internet Communications units that deal with web presence) you will be utilising a variety of online services and applications. Before we begin therefore, it is a good time to think about consolidating your use of these services by establishing a username that you can share amongst them. Fortunately, there are a number of services available to assist you in this process. In this activity we are going to use one of these, namechk.com, to search for a suitable username.


  • Go to the website namechk.com

  • If you are already a member of one or more of these sites, perform a search on namechk to see the availability of your existing username on the others.

  • If you aren’t a member of any of these sites, choose a username for yourself and see if it is available for all of the sites and services listed above.

  • Optimally, you are looking for a username that is available on all of these sites. If you aren’t a member for any of them yet, this shouldn’t be a problem - just keep checking until you arrive at an available name you are happy with.

  • Make a note of the username you chose; when we use certain social media tools later in the unit, you’ll have your username ready when you come to sign up. (You do not have to join any of these services today, but you are welcome to if you wish.)

  • NB: Occasionally some of the platforms that namechk pings might change their design and namechk might return false positives (ie look like the name is taken when it’s not) or ambiguous results (ie not clearly show whether a name is taken on a particular service). If there’s just one service on which all names consistently appears to be taken, then click through and check that service directly.

  • Going through the process, have a think about

    • (a) how many different web services there are out there and
    • (b) how many you’re already familiar with. We’ll probably be touching on the tools you are familiar with in this week’s discussions.
Optional Reading: The ‘Real Names’ Web

In the last five years, there has been a significant shift in the way that identity is talked about online, from an era where online identity was mainly about pseudonyms, avatars and anonymity to today where the online giants such as Google and Facebook have been strategically pushing a web where real names and ‘true’ identities are the default. This week there is an optional but very interesting reading by Liesbet van Zoonen which explores this shift not just online, but throughout Western culture:

Zoonen, L. van. (2013). From identity to identification: fixating the fragmented self. Media, Culture & Society, 35(1), 44–51. doi:10.1177/0163443712464557

(If you are on Curtin campus, this article will open automatically using the link, otherwise you may need to search the Curtin Library database to access it.)

NEXT: Topic 1.1 What is the Internet
My notes for this topic