There have been a few questions recently on the origin of my Twitter handle, as well as the name of my freelance company. These names are slightly different, and they also differ from the nickname I've employed on IRC for the better part of 15 years. The three names actually all stem from the same point in time.
In the 1990s I was introduced to the concept of online communication much the same way as millions of others in North America; the AOL free trial. The year was 1995 and a friend of mine had a pretty decent computer and a blazing fast 14.4 baud modem. I don't remember who supplied the AOL disk containing the requisite connection software (winsock.exe, anyone?) and somewhere around 5 free hours of access. This was before AOL joined the Internet, but it was still a place where millions could go to connect with others around the continent. The world seemed so big back then.
We managed to get everything installed and configured without too much trouble and dialed the nearest phone number that would get us online. This meant calling long-distance, and we had already made an arrangement with my friend's parents that he and I would split the cost of the call when the bill came in. We threw caution to the wind and, on that fateful Saturday afternoon, dialed the number that would forever change the way we looked at the world.
One of the first things that we did after connecting was try and find a Star Trek chat room. Being the geeks we were, and with the seemingly unstoppable interest in The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine1, this was not difficult in the least. We needed a nickname, and my friend typed in the name people had given him at school: wheels. Once connected, we saw a list of people in the chatroom and we struck up a conversation with a person who went by the name "Ablematigo". I liked the name. I still like the name. Heck, according to Google, I completely own this name! But there was a problem ...
In 1997 I attended my first college in Mississauga, Ontario. I went to DeVRY. Yes ... that DeVRY. This school had a 64Kbit ISDN connection split across 48 computers in the lab, and I spent every free minute there. I had been introduced to IRC a few months before leaving high school and enjoyed chatting with the people on there. Now that I was 200km from everyone I knew, hopping on IRC and chatting with a few high school buddies became much more important. The network of choice back then was EFNet, and EFNet has a nickname limitation of 9 characters. Ablematigo is 11. So I did what anybody else who was young and foolish might do; I cut the name in half. Able Matigo. This would become my online persona for the next six years, and my real name would be completely hidden from this digital world of anonymous individuals.
Able was my name for a long time until it was taken by a bot, where the nickname became Able`. Not a perfect solution, but still better than planting a numeral on the end of the nick. No way would I want to be Able0 or Able1. When I finally got over my initial impressions of Twitter and joined the service, this name was already taken and I needed something else. This is when matigo was put to use as a primary name online for the first time.
I liked it. Truth be told, I liked it more than Able. Able is the name of a real estate company2 here in Japan with horrible advertising. Why would I want to associate myself with that? So matigo it was. I had already been using the name for my freelance work in Vancouver, anyway, so it was no problem to use it on Twitter.
But the software gig is done under the name of Dematigo. Where did that "De" come from?
The "De" prefix comes from a family name in my youth and a random conversation in high school with someone who had a Dutch family name. Basically, he said that any name that had "De" in front of it sounded much more noble than names without. Deable clearly doesn't work, but Dematigo sounded outright exotic3. I'd be a fool to not use it.
And use it I did.
So there we go. The overall story isn't all that interesting, but it has a long history and the names clearly identify me online ... which is something that my name alone cannot provide.