A name-changing moment

If I ever have kids, they will be named according to domain name and Twitter handle availability — or or their equivalents at that time — and I will be sure to reserve both as soon as their names are chosen.

My preferred web domain for this site has always been andrewclark.com. Given how generically Anglo-Saxon my name is, this is a dream I expect to remain unfulfilled. If namestatistics.com is to be believed, “Clark” is the 21st most common last name in the United States; “Andrew” is 35th most common first name. As of this writing, a Google search for “Andrew Clark” returns 58 million results.

Andrew Clark is a Professor of Population Genetics at Cornell University. Andrew Clark is a wedding photojournalist. Andrew Clark is Director of Choral Activities and Senior Lecturer on Music at Harvard. Andrew Clark writes for the Guardian. Andrew Clark is an economist at the Paris School of Economics. Andrew Clark is a London-based artist with a “self-confessed objective of subtlety.” Andrew Clark is a third-year resident at the University of Florida College of Dentistry. (This one particularly stings, as I could probably walk to this guy’s house for lunch.) A Google search for “Andy Clark” returns 74.5 million results, many of which likely overlap, though that hardly makes me feel better.

One of my best friends has a brother named Andrew Clark, which the kind of anecdata that probably shouldn’t matter, though I have to say, it’s weird being in another person’s room, surrounded by trophies and art projects and belongings adorned with your name.

Worse than the non-possession of andrewclark.com is the knowledge that it isn’t being put to good use by someone else. A visit to the address is met with the promise that “andrewclark.com will be back shortly.” How fantastic. I don’t know with certainty the name of the guy who currently owns andrewclark.com (I have a hunch), but he can go straight to hell.

I shouldn’t need to explain the desire to own the domain for your name. Beyond the aesthetic and minimalist appeal, there is a practical component to controlling your personal brand. I’ve been thinking about this more since I read in the news that bobmenedez.com and robertmenedez.com belong to political opponents of Senator Robert Menendez, and are used to spread negative information about him. Why this so deeply concerns me I can only poorly explain: As a young person, I have yet to rid myself of the delusion that I will one day be truly important, important enough to have enemies determined to slander me. Perhaps I am also burdened by my complete irrelevance to anything and everything. It is possible that nothing in my life will ever be significant enough to rival “andrewclark.com will be back shortly.” I say this not to be modest or because I have especially low self-esteem, but because in all likelihood it’s true — and it’s probably true for you, too, dear reader, so deal with that. As long as I’m over-sharing, I’ll confess that I have a deep personal fear that a young Canadian named Andrew Clark will become an overnight pop star. I’ve always liked my name (hi Mom and Dad), but if this happens I will not hesitate to change it.

Until a few days ago, the domain for this website was contentioninvain.com, a tongue-in-cheek reference to a quotation few people are familiar with and too long to be a good URL. It was meant to be temporary until I could think of something better. I never could.

Resigned to the fact that I will never possess andrewclark.com or any of its variants (yes, I’ve checked andrewclark.net), I’ve done the next best thing and changed the primary domain of this site to andrewphilipclark.com. It’s actually longer than the previous domain by a letter, which is one of the reasons I didn’t make this change sooner. Anyway, it seems like a sensible thing to do.