Names and Branding
Thomas P.M. Barnett explains why he has double the standard allotment of middle initials. His wife, the former Vonne Meussling, took his name by adding a hyphen to hers and he added hers to his minus the hyphen.
I went from “maiden” name Thomas Patrick Barnett to Thomas Patrick-Meussling Barnett, or Thomas P.M. Barnett as the brand.
That extra initial makes me unique on the web, something I find incredibly valuable.
The more common your first and last names, the more useful that is. Frankly, at this point in time, simply searching for Tom Barnett yields results exclusively pertaining to Thomas P.M. Barnett; that was likely not the case back before Pentagon’s New Map broke out.
My business card says “James H. Joyner, Jr., Ph.D.” which is more than enough characters and adding in a second middle initial never really occurred to me. There are quite a few people with the name “James Joyner” (my online brand) out there but it’s uncommon enough that I’m easily the most prominent one on the Web. I’ve got it easier in that regard than, say, Steven Taylor or Stephen Green but harder than, say, Matthew Yglesias.
My wife took my last name and converted her maiden name, Webb, into her middle name, dropping the Anne she was born with. She didn’t hyphenate it but, alas, going with three names seems to confuse the bejezus out of data entry types, so she’s frequently entered into databases as Webb Joyner rather than Joyner. Our daughter, Katie (Katharine) has Webb as her given middle name as well. By the time she’s old enough to marry (she’s four months now) the custom of women changing their names may well have died out, removing that issue but raising others.