What's in a ✨name✨
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TL;DR: I talk about a new emoji-based service I’ve recently discovered called Yat, and what I think it means in terms of finding your way around online or establishing your identity on the internet.
3 letters to your virtual home
In my latest foray of Serious Research For Interesting New Things On The Internet (SRFINTOTI for short), I stumbled upon Yat. Right away I noticed the three-letter logo conjured up a familiar one that was buzzy and trendy a while ago in stirring up the email client world. Left hand, meet right hand:
HEY Yat. I actually know a guy named Yat.
For the sake of pattern matching but also because it’s relevant, hey.com and y.at are both in some way offering some part of the same thing: valuable virtual real estate and/or identity shorthand.
If you get an email address at hey.com, paying for it allows you to keep firstname.lastname@example.org for life (well, that’s what they promise, whether they hold true to that is another matter).
While hey.com is primarily an email service, the fact that you can secure an email address at a 3-letter domain is actually incredibly valuable, and arguably a valid reason to pay for the 1 year subscription to keep it for a lifetime. That it’s also a relatively new service also means that there’s a good chance that if you check for your name on it early enough, you’ll also get the one you want.
Yat is where it's at
Yat, in its own words: “…is your emoji username, website url, payment address and more.” To put it into context of existing products, it seems to be sort of a mixture between a URL shortener (like bit.ly), social link profile (like about.me/Linktree/Linkinbio/Carrd), and micro-payment service (like Patreon/Gumroad/Ko-Fi).
Link is: https://y.at/🌸🐱🤖❄️
I chose a string of emoji and settled on sakura, cat, robot, snowflake - this combination was priced at a low price of $7 compared to pricing at higher orders of magnitude. I decided that selecting 4 emoji was a significantly better deal at single digit pricing rather than shelling out a couple hundred bucks for one emoji shorter. Example:
Some explanation here of the combined numerical "Rhythm Score"
Over time, I’ve increasingly come to the conclusion that although virtual space is technically infinite, human behavior and preference defines it in a fairly finite way. In the sense that you can certainly still buy (some, not all, at a very high price) a 2-5 letter domain name these days, what are the chances that those are 2-5 letters that coincide in a catchy word that is valuable and understandable?
In that sense, I’ve become more concerned about capturing the relative scarcity of being able to keep my name across different social platforms or internet spaces. I currently have @andreachan on Twitter, but when it comes to the larger networks, I never used my real name if not necessary, nor did I attempt to try and get my real name on those (like Instagram). I do have andreachan.com which is pretty cool, but there are plenty of places on the internet where I’m not the “andreachan” there.
So when direct naming conventions such as finding your own dot com begin to become a competitive market and it’s harder to get your name on different services, abstracting that away and finding different ways to make shorter connections from A to B will likely be increasingly more common to make that ‘direct-ness’ more readily available to a wider audience. You don’t own yourname.com? Perhaps you might have about.me/yourname, or a Yat with some series of emojis that represent you/your brand/your business in a concise and easy to remember way.
As more people get online and realize the importance of claiming virtual land and direction signs to that land, some level of that complexity will continuously be abstracted away. I think that as more people become comfortable with figuring out what one’s fragmented/combined identity is online, the real scarcity will be having the option of being able to present a consistent and universally accessible identity profile (whether as an individual or business) across the internet.
I haven’t really reconciled or made a unified conscious decision of my identity online yet - there’s some real name “business person” type stuff, some real name “goofy person” type stuff, and there’s some anonymous identity “embarrassing in public” or “default to private” type stuff. The freedom of living online is being able to happily separate and create boundaries between all of those identities. Which Andrea are you reading right now? Heck, I don’t even know. I’ll let you know if I figure it out somewhere along the way.