Your @ is a commodity

A while ago, I signed up for Polywork, a new-age tech-focused LinkedIn, in their early beta stages. I was one of a first few hundred to get access to the platform, and when they asked me to choose a handle, I took my opportunity: @alisa

But I was instantly hit with an error message that this handle was reserved. Not taken, reserved. I was a little offended because I had discovered this site through Brian Lovin, whose handle was @brian, and it looked v cool. I just didn’t have enough internet clout to lay claim to the handle bearing my own first name.

On the other hand, I kind of understand Polywork’s decision to reserve quality handles. I’m sure lots of people sign up with sought-after usernames then end up abandoning the platform. I imagine the net anger is probably higher when Polywork decides to boot the username of an already-existing user, who comes back later to find that their handle been given to someone else. Safer to reserve from the start.

Since then, I’ve been thinking about how the internet has commoditized weird things. We already have an entire industry around how high up in rankings your site gets on Google when someone types a search term. I used to work for an SEO company, and it was strange to have your entire livelihood depend on whether Google decided to change their algorithm dramatically. It’s a pretty “new” industry, but it feels tired and outdated already.

It’s similar to influencers – they’re effectively engaging in a type of SEO, except the algorithm they’re trying to stay afloat on are the ones on Instagram or YouTube rather than Google.

I never ended up getting into Polywork. Maybe it’s the chip on my shoulder, or maybe I wasn’t productive enough. Anyway.