What’s in a name?

The latest relaunch of this site has got me thinking: Who is Illtron?

I think it’s safe to say I was the first to stake a claim on this nom de internet. The name I’ve travelled under online for the longest time is freshyill, which itself has a silly, but straightforward origin story: I needed an AIM screen name.

I was on ICQ a lot longer than I was on AIM. It was actually something like a year and a half, but it felt like a long time. ICQ was nice because it didn’t bother with names. You got a nice, sterile, number, and everyone was happy. The uh oh aside, ICQ seemed like the better choice of instant messaging services in the mid–late ’90s. AOL was the kiddie internet, and AIM was an extension of that, so I was resistant to the idea of signing up. Consequently, I held out a lot longer than I probably should have.

By 1998, it was clear that ICQ just wasn’t catching on in my circles. AOL bought the developer of ICQ, so it started to seem like I’d be getting on AIM sooner or later, whether I wanted to or not. By that time, however, every normal name I would ever choose was already taken. Complicating this was the fact that AIM screen names were limited to just 10 characters in 1998.

I flat-out refused to just add a number onto some version of my name like a normal person, so I had to get creative. I was listening to a lot of Beastie Boys at the time, and well… “freshyill.” It’s still my go-to whenever I need a username today.

Illtron wasn’t much better. In the summer of 2001, for some reason I wanted another screen name (it seems like everybody had at least two). I was listening to Deltron 3030 basically on repeat at the time, and well, “freshyill + Deltron 3030 = Illtron 3030.”

A quick aside from the Illtron.net internal style guide: “Illtron” is capitalized, “freshyill” is lowercase.

Back to the entry at hand…

I don’t quite know why I went with Illtron over freshyill when I registered the domain for this site. In my headcanon, which is also true canon, freshyill is personal, but Illtron is somehow bigger, more all-encompassing. That makes a lot of sense historically, because I periodically hosted blogs for at least four or five other people on the domain back when it was on Movable Type.

On to the point of all this: In time between when the original site petered out, and now, a lot of usurpers have appeared on the scene. Who are they and why do they suck? Well…

Of course, some of what you’ll find out there actually is me.

It’s somewhat surprising that of all the people who have picked up the name, nobody has actually done much with it. It’s a bunch of random accounts, clearly belonging to different people, on different services. Most are just a name with virtually no public content associated with it.

I don’t have a deep thought that this is all leading up to, just the observation that it’s like these people also needed a name, and came up with something semi-random, exactly like I did.