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competition for "Danny"

Oxford — September 2010

My legal name is "Daniel" but I've always been a "Danny". This is a reasonably common name, but I've never had a major namespace collision before. (A family friend, who lived with us for a while when she was fifteen, was "Danielle" and at Sydney Uni I worked with a "Dan".)

But my sister's mother-in-law is a Danielle who is always called "Dani". And now there's a colleague of Camilla's — and a neighbour, since he's bought the house three down from us — who is also a "Danny". Both of these have already resulted in confusions.

Children should clearly be given globally unique names, trademarked as personal identifiers in all major jurisdictions...

In the broader world, I was once (a decade or so ago) among the top results on a Google search for "danny" — I used to joke that I was on first name terms with the Web — but have now (19th September 2010) been pushed to 12th (the exact results may vary with geographical location).

At the top of the results are a rapper and a footballer who I've never heard of, but who are public figures with high profile Wikipedia entries. Then there's Choo (a Japanese culture expert), Turver (a 19 year old with a MySpace profile), Ayers (a blogger who's had an online presence as long as I have), Ferguson (a blogger), Pang (a Hong Kong actor with an IMDB entry), Jones (a twitter feed), Noriega (another actor), and Sullivan (who blogs about search engines, and has also been around forever).

It says something about the prominence of social networking that otherwise unremarkable Twitter and MySpace pages now rank so highly in search results!


  1. Actually you are third, accessing Google from Thailand. Results are:

    1. Danny! ... Danny!, also known as D. Swain ...

    2. Danny (footballer) ...

    3. Danny Yee's home page ...

    Comment by Richard Rannard — September 2010
  2. You should be used to it - remember that our Chinese grandmother, who had trouble pronouncing certain English sounds, used to call us both 'Denny'!

    Comment by Jenny Yee — September 2010
  3. You should be worried. I failed to find you under danny on Google Hong Kong.
    Globally unique names, personal identifiers? You do have one which is close to being unique, but not yet used.

    Comment by DL — September 2010
  4. Odd that my home page doesn't appear even in the top 100 on Google Hong Kong. It's not an outright ban or something to do with the Great Firewall, because I show up fine on a search for "danny yee". The ways of Google are not always comprehensible.

    I don't remember Nana Yee calling us both "Denny" - but my childhood memories seem to have decayed much faster than yours, Jenny.

    Comment by danny — September 2010
  5. Jenny, I agree with Danny, you stand to be corrected. I don't think Nana ever called you and Danny "Denny". She had difficulties with the names Margaret, Stephen and Vera.

    Your grandmother was a remarkable person. She arrived Sydney at a mature age. English language skills eluded her for she had no chance to socialise or mix. From dawn to dusk she was tied down to the family small business and bringing up her brood of children. I remember she used to take a dose of Bex powder or Vincents every afternoon to keep herself going.

    In close to fifty years of her life in Sydney, she never left the city once, not even to the Blue Mountains. Travel sickness did not help. She had never been on a plane. She lived a frugal life, a life of waste not.

    I don't know if she ever missed not returning to China for just a visit. But I do remember she spoke in glowing terms of her family home back in the village.

    Every year at Ching Ming ( Clear and Bright) Festival of family visit to the graves, I always pay respects due her as an elder. At the end of formalities, I join, with literally a busload of others, for a pinic at the cemetery. Next year, there is going to be firecrackers as well.

    For us, visiting the cemetery needs not be a solemn occasion. We see this also a chance for families and friends get together, to remember our ancestors and loved ones. People away from home always try to make it back for Ching Ming ( late March or April) observation. It is a very significant date in the almanac.

    Comment by DL — September 2010
  6. hi danny, google.com.au has you in 4th position if that's any consolation :-)

    Comment by raf — September 2010
  7. Bookstores and travel: I hope you plan a trip to the area in Wales that has all the bookstores--Hay on Wye?

    Comment by Margaret Mackenzie-Hooson — February 2011

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