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The 21st Century Land Grab

Oklahoma Bricktown Land Run

Oklahoma Bricktown Land Run

By now, many people are familiar with Cybersquatting – a process whereby a person registers a domain name in bad faith with the intent of reselling it later for a profit. Recent legislation has made it easier for trademark holders and famous persons to obtain their domains from squatters, but the process is by no means full-proof (just ask Kevin Spacey and Bruce Springsteen).
However, this is just one layer of an increasingly complex wired world…

I Registered, Therefore I Am

All large and most small/medium/micro businesses (though still not enough) are finally coming to the realization that online invisibility is a tremendous liability. But what about your personal online visibility? Many people have registered their personal names as domain names. Indeed, most domain registrars beat you over the head with requests to do so. But this article is about far more than domain names – that ship pretty much sailed years ago along with Gmail and Hotmail addresses. This is about establishing your online homesteads to be prepared for the current and future waves of social networking.

“Do you have a flag?”

This is a brilliant and hilarious skit by comedian Eddie Izzard. He satirizes imperialistic England, who claimed ownership over indigenous civilizations “through the cunning use of flags.” And so it goes with the new wired world – possession, as they say, is nine tenths of the law. You need to claim as much territory as possible as soon as possible and all you need is a flag: your name.

More and more every day, web sites are becoming tools for learning more about individuals. Sites like LinkedIn and VisualCV are becoming de facto online résumés. Blogger and WordPress are windows into peoples’ expertise and opinions. Flickr, Delicious, and Netflix allow people to share their interests and experiences. Of course, there are the mothers of all personal identity sites; Facebook and MySpace. Finally, there are aggregators like FriendFeed and Plaxo that attempt to tie them all together. You may utilize few if any of these sites right now, but do you want to bet your online future on the fact that you never will?

He Who Hesitates Is Lost

I’m fortunate in the sense that my name is not all that common. My identity is pretty readily available on most platforms. However, I’m not leaving it to chance. I registered my domain name years ago and have been on a land-grabbing tear recently, snatching up my identity on any site with which I come into contact regardless of whether or not I think I will use it. It’s the sports equivalent of “the best offense is a good defense.” I firmly believe that more and more prospective employers and customers will be using online searches for individuals sooner rather than later. If nothing else, don’t let them find the other “Jane Smith” before you.

On Your Mark, Get Set, Register

If you’re new to social networking and/or personal branding you may have no idea where to begin and that’s understandable. In my opinion, these are the top priorities:

  • General
  • Professional
    • LinkedIn (e.g. www.linkedin.com/in/janesmith)
    • Blogger (e.g. janesmith.blogger.com)
    • WordPress (e.g. janesmith.wordpress.com)
    • Technorati (e.g. www.technorati.com/people/tecnorati/janesmith)
  • Personal
    • Facebook (e.g. www.facebook.com/people/JaneSmith)
    • YouTube (e.g. www.youtube.com/user/janesmith)
  • Sharing and Aggregating
    • FriendFeed (e.g. friendfeed.com/JaneSmith)
    • Delicious (e.g. delicious.com/JaneSmith)
    • Digg (e.g. dig.com/users/JaneSmith)
    • Flickr (e.g. www.flickr.com/photos/janesmith)

Have I left anything out?

Photo credits:
‘Oklahoma Bricktown Land Run’ courtesy of
Serge Melki from Flickr (creative commons)

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  • Oops…

    I’m too late. With a name like Mike Walsh it’s quite hard to be the first to register much of anything with my name.

    In fact, I once had smashed up my truck. Went into get an appraisal at a body shop for the insurance company. Told the guy I was Mike Walsh with a Tacoma/front end damage.. He grabs a clipboard and follows me out to the truck. He says “oh that’s strange, I had it down as silver not red.. and right sided damage not left”.. As we are chatting a guy pulls up in a silver tacoma with right sided front-end damage.. He was a Mike Walsh also. I couldn’t even get personalized auto-damage!!!

    Anyway, I have a web presence now through my consulting/”SQL Server challenge elimination” hobby and a blog. That with a twitter account and facebook account give me a little visibility.

    Nice post.

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  • Harold Ennulat

    What is the best (cheap and reliable) way to register you domain name?

  • Jon DiPietro

    Hi Harold,
    The pricing for domain registration is very competitive; there really isn’t much of a difference between them. I’ve settled on GoDaddy for a few reasons. First, their pricing is very competitive. Second, they are by far the largest registrar, which means there is less chance of them folding up shop any time soon. Third, they have the most complete set of tools I’ve used. That’s not to say their interface is the easiest to use, but it is comprehensive. Finally, their customer service is pretty good.

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