Came here from an email or other personal reference?
This page describes how I choose personal names for myself.
Aliases 3000 is a system of choosing personal names for myself, in lieu of "Peter".
In 2016, because of one of my personality quirks, I just "had it" with the name "Peter," even though it was the name I was used to being called. I wanted to be called a different name, perhaps my middle name. However, it is "Hang", which has connotations with hanging, so that was unusable. In short, together with all my other thoughts, I was faced with an interesting situation:
- I would like to be called a name other than Peter, but my middle name Hang was unusable.
- If I were to choose a completely different name, there would be a lot of complications:
- I could start with choosing a certain name, but instantly regret it because of some connotation that I was unaware of.
- Because it is not part of my full name, not many people would believe that I could genuinely be called by such a name because they would have believed that I had made it up on the spot.
- Even if I did say that it was something I have always done, it is not always clear to others why it is, given that "Peter" is a totally fine name and that one would normally not feel compelled to use a different name for themselves.
- Additionally, if I were to use a different name, then not only would people not recognize it, but people would also presume some sort of malice by doing so (e.g., to commit identity theft). Under no circumstances would I do so in choosing a different name; I just want to hear the name that I always want to be called and somehow link it to anything under my real name.
Aliases 3000 was invented to solve the above scenario. By providing a go-to reason with actual substantial effort put into it, with mechanisms to account for the names used, we can not only inform others of my legitimate desire to use a different name, but we can also account for the use of chosen names as evidence that I had used a certain name to refer to myself at almost any given point in time.
The name "Aliases 3000" was chosen to refer to email aliases, which is one of the main expressions of Aliases 3000, and 3000 was just a number that sounded futuristic, like the year 3000.
How it works
Aliases 3000 works on the principles of namespaces and "scope aliasing." Essentially, by putting my real name alongside a name I choose, the chosen names can be used in a way to refer to me, even if the name I choose is completely unrelated to my real name. This is mostly done by creating email addresses where the left part of the email address is a name I choose, and the right part contains my domain name, which in turn contains my real name. In this way, "peterjin.org" becomes the namespace or scope, and my chosen names are the names within the namespace.
Aliases 3000 has several main properties:
- Non-permanence: If I choose any given name for myself, it should not be necessary for me to use that name forever because they might be a reason to stop using a name, most commonly due to an unwanted connotation.
- Flexibility: Aliases 3000 should not be limited to a certain subset of names. Although certain names are excluded from being chosen, it does not mean that I cannot expand into using other names.
- Accountability: For every name in substantial usage, it shall be logged in a public location for scrutiny, similar to how names must be put into a newspaper publication when people want to change their legal names.
- Properness: Aliases 3000 should be reasonable and able to be used to inform others of how and why I use different names. Any doubts of malice or unreasonableness should be cleared up as soon as possible.
- Main article: Aliases 3000 Name Selection Process
List of current, previous, and future-use names
- Main article: List of names used by Aliases 3000
Analogy: i vs. j for the imaginary unit in electrical engineering versus general mathematics
Imagine I'm the imaginary unit (pun intended). I normally go by "i" in most mathematical and scientific fields. However, this is not true in electrical engineering. There, I go by "j", because "i" is already used for electrical current. In other words, everyone calls me "i" but the electrical engineers call me "j"; thus, "j" is considered an "alias" for myself ("i" [no pun intended]) in electrical engineering.
This is very similar to how Aliases 3000 might be useful, except that my real name "Peter" is "i" and one of the names listed above is "j". Because there can also be other people named "Peter" (other "i"s) in a certain context, I have to come up with an alias for myself.
Normal people would use their last names or initials in such a situation, or even perhaps their middle names, but I just think that's too mundane (also see "History" above). Therefore, Aliases 3000.
I do have to admit that there was a bit of hypocrisy in this situation, because I personally prefer "i" for the imaginary unit, even in electrical engineering. But that might just be because I don't focus exclusively on electrical engineering.
"Charles (Peter Jin)"
Just after the incident described in the "History" section above, I decided to write the name "Charles" (only as an example; the actual incident involved a different name) next to my own name whenever I did my homework or took a quiz or test. Keep in mind that this was long before I registered the domain peterjin.org. I still remember my Calculus teacher asking me the following question in a very confused tone:
- Why did you write the name "Charles" next to your name and then cross it out?
Honestly, looking back, the intent of this was likely to "announce" my intent to use "Charles" to refer to myself instead of "Peter", but I did not want people to mistakenly believe that it was for someone actually named "Charles," thus emphasizing the ability to use the alias to refer to myself but also link it to my real identity in order to minimize confusion.
Eventually, I still did this for another two years after that incident, and sometime during those two years, I continued to write "Charles (Peter Jin)", but I no longer crossed out "Charles".
I slowly stopped doing this once I went to college (the ability to realize Aliases 3000 was easier in high school since many students knew me at that time, but the same is not true of college), but Aliases 3000 still lives on to this day (5 November 2020) as an internal construct that seeks to be expressed.
As I now have a domain with custom email addresses, it's no wonder that this has evolved into one of my main emails being "charles@_neon.peterjin.org".
From email aliases to IPv6 addresses
When Aliases 3000 first started out as mere email aliases, it was limited to only a few names that I would likely use, such as Charles and Lizzie. Later, it was decided that I would move to my own email server, which does not really have a limit to the number of email aliases. And sometime during the fall of 2019, I decided to list every name I could think of in /etc/aliases, even if I never wanted to use them. I still remember being in the ECE lecture hall typing up some of the names I would use into that file.
The mere fact that I listed the aliases in Postfix increased my desire to use the names, since the mail system would have actually recognized the existence or nonexistence of the names whenever I used telnet/netcat on port 25:
RCPT TO:<charles@_neon.peterjin.org> 250 2.1.5 Ok
RCPT TO:<stephanie@_neon.peterjin.org> 550 5.1.1 <stephanie@_neon.peterjin.org>: User unknown in virtual mailbox table
Unfortunately, all of my email domains had to be converted into a catch-all because of some mishaps, and because I lost track of what email addresses I used, I had to retain this catch-all even when I switched back to my own mail servers. As a side effect, the manifestation of Aliases 3000 names in email addresses was no longer useful.
However, this idea came back again with 2602:806:a003:40e::/64 (the actual delegation was 2602:806:a003:40e::3000:0/100) and the assignment of IP addresses to the aliases. Because IP addresses 1) have actual substance on the Internet and are not trivialized compared to domain names and 2) are realized in a public-facing capacity (compared to email which was private), it was a bit more useful than email aliases.
The use of email aliases to manifest Aliases 3000 is still used, but the mail server configuration is no longer an inspiration for names.
Interestingly enough, since I listed "william.aliases.peterjin.org" as an example, I've noticed that I sort of like the name William more than previously. And just after writing this, I changed it to "sebastian.aliases.peterjin.org", which caused me to like the name Sebastian in the same way that I did with William.
I've heard that people are more likely to like things that are connected to their own names, but with Aliases 3000, once I pick a name, this same effect seems to occur, but with the chosen name instead.
- Aliases 3000 is not a case of someone from China (I'm actually American-born Chinese and "Peter" is my birth name) having an identity crisis with using an English name as a means of fitting in with Westerners.
- I still remember this line from a teacher in high school (don't remember the exact words, but something to that effect): "If you keep on writing the name 'Charles' / insist that your name is 'Charles' / tell other people that your name is 'Charles', then people will have weird thoughts about you: Why does this guy not want to be called Peter and wants to be called Charles?" The "weird thoughts about you" part just makes me laugh every time.
- The actual file on Linux. It was actually the Postfix virtual alias maps, but the general idea was the same.