It was a hot day in Belo Horizonte, and even hotter in my office.
I was into my third month of deputation in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, and nine straight months of mostly summer were beginning to wear me out. This stretch of temperatures had lasted from June to December in the northern hemisphere, followed by my southern hemisphere transplantation since last December.
My company had shipped me down there to code XSL transformations for a Brazilian communications giant, and the language barrier and long hours were severely impacting my ability to stay entertained in my off-hours. I had been spending some time recoding my personal website, which was helpful thanks to the photographs I was accumulating during my trip.
I stopped to rub my dry eyes. I needed a break from work. I minimize my development environment and fired up the web. Soon enough, I ended up on Network Solutions, searching for domain names for my new website. On a lark, I tried looking up my old college nickname, to see if that vanity URL was available. Lo and behold, it was: Spamboy.com. I excitedly snatched it up and began the process of pointing it towards my web host and setting up a Spamboy.com email account.
Later that day after work, I retired to my apartment and continued my work on the site. I setup the new email address in my local mail client. Next thing I know, it started to download messages — a lot of messages. This was not good, as I had yet to provide anyone with my new email address. Soon enough, I had dozens of hardcore porn emails.
With my eyebrow arched due to a combination of curiosity and worry, I took a moment to Google my new URL. The next several pages of hits showed me that Spamboy.com had once been a redirect that took you to OlderLadies.com. Yep, grandma porn. The next several years would be quite an online adventure.
That’s pretty much what I said at the time, in 2001. And that’s pretty much what my friends said last week when I changed my online name, from Spamboy to McGarityDotMe. According to some of my Tweeps (and family members), I have some explaining to do. And for those of you who don’t know who I am (or was), you might skip ahead a few paragraphs.
So, yeah. Last week, I changed my name. No, not my legal name, but instead my nickname. It started on Twitter, then filtered down to Facebook, and now it’s come down to the blog level. Although some people will still refer to me by my previous moniker, I wish they’d switch to using my real name. Out with Spamboy, in with McGarityDotMe.
I’ve been mulling a change for years, and ultimately, it came down to evolving my personal brand. I got tired of explaining to people what Spamboy meant. I got tired of emailing my blog posts to friends trapped behind merciless firewalls that blocked my old URL as a porn site. I got really tired of telling people it had nothing to do with the spam you receive in your email. In short, it was energy best expended in other areas.
I had also spent the past several years obscuring my online presence, attempting to make myself more known as Spamboy than anything related to McGarity. But unless you’re a Texas Longhorns hater, there are far less negative connotations with the name McGarity than there are with Spamboy. And besides, it’s what my momma calls me. And you wouldn’t dare tell an old broad as tough as her that you think she’s wrong, would you?
OK, so now what?
So I have a brand, but what does it mean? I hope it means actually writing crap on my blog.
Part of changing my brand was revamping my web presence. I have not produced much online output over the past few years. This was partly due to personal reasons (e.g. lack of sleep due to new fatherhood), but also because my old website wasn’t conducive to writing. It was ugly, it was overly customized, and it had a mission (long-form storytelling) that led to counter-productivity. I needed a platform where I could create something substantial if I had just 15 minutes.
So I would say my new mission is giving myself the freedom to write what I want, which means I will eventually have a variety of subjects. These will fall into three original Categories:
- Running: one of my greater passions is distance running, the thrill of competing in marathons and half-marathons, and coaching my fellow athletes to have similar success. I started writing about this on my old website, and I think I have a lot to share in this area.
- WordPress: another of my passions is working with this great CMS platform. It has led me to participate heaviliy in the local WordPress Meetups and even organize several WordPress-related conferences (WordCamp Dallas and OpenCamp).
- Personal: everything else, from family stories, photos of my trip, and weird shit I find online (note: I am very talented at finding weird shit online).
In addition to freeing up my subject matter, I needed to reduce the barriers to entry for blogging. To help with tackling that goal, I changed my primary blogging device from a laptop computer to an iPad. Although my friends might disagree with me, I think the iPad is a revolutionary input device for blogging, and since I acquired one during the summer, I’ve written more in the past few months than I have in the past year. The proof is in the iPudding. When things calm down, I’ll walk you through my iPad-based workflow and see if you feel the same.
That’s about it, really. I just wanted to start McGarityDotMe off with a good explanation that hopefully makes it worth your effort to keep coming back. Thanks for the support, and be on the lookout for more posts as we ramp up to OpenCamp this upcoming weekend.