First Post! Amnesia

The very worst topic for a first blog post is "my first blog post". So instead I'll pretend that this is a considered essay on cognition, with reference to observations concerning human autobiographical memory.

Setting up a blog should be easy. You just log into Wordpress or Blogspot and start writing. But like Heston Blumenthal frying a chip I'm quite capable of spending days on tasks that should take a few moments. I like to think of this as a perennial quest for perfection, but in reality it's about spending 10 times as long to do a job only 10% better. Or more frequently, procrastinating until I forget what I was actually trying to do in the first place.

In this case I became obsessed with getting my own domain name. Really I should have gone with justinobrien123.freeblogsite.com. Instead I became annoyed that the usual top level justinobrien domains were already taken.

This should have concerned me for no longer than it took to type in my name and discover that there are now thousands of possible top level domains. I could be justinobrien.science or justinobrien.vision.

Instead I fixated on the domains I couldn't have. Specifically justinobrien.com and justinobrien.co.uk were already taken. Now I do understand that there are other people with the same name as me. I know this because I have a Google Alert that emails me whenever a "Justin O'Brien" appears in the news (everybody does this, right?). It transpires that there are a lot of Justin O'Briens and they all play high school football in the American midwest. Or at least, Google thinks all the newsworthy ones do.

I was already aware that justinobrien.com belongs to an Australian film maker, who wastefully redirects the domain to a different site. What I didn't know is who had my preferred .co.uk.

You used to be able to find out who owned a domain with a whois lookup. But that's hardly worth bothering with because nowadays everyone masks their identity for security reasons. Only an idiot would allow their private contact details to be available on a public website.

If you search for my name on LinkedIn it claims to find 165 people. Not all of these are high school football players. Indeed, these J. O'Briens are clearly too busy performing sporting deeds on the football pitches of the mid-West so heroic they merit mention in the local press to upload profiles to LinkedIn. I myself don't even appear on the first page of LinkedIn Justin O'Briens.

So who was the culprit? Who was so narcissistic he just had to have his own name domain, a man so intent on aspiring to the utterly pointless status as the UK's #1 Justin O'Brien that he sat on the domain year after year, making sure nobody could steal it when the registration came up for renewal.

I grimly typed "www.justinobrien.co.uk" into my browser and waited for a self-satisified, beaming face to appear. It took only a moment to download.

And that's why this post is about amnesia.

Because the four-eyed, balding Justin O'Brien I found myself looking at was of course me.

It took a moment to process this. Smugly grinning was not a younger version of myself, with a full mane of lustrous dark hair. It was the Justin O'Brien snapped at work only a few weeks ago. Could I have ... was it possible that ... no, surely I hadn't set up a website and forgotten about it in the space of a fortnight?

TL;DR - I'm not that far gone. I bought the domain 10 years ago and set it to point at my Brunel University personal page. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 The undisputed #1 Justin O'Brien in the UK, according to Justin O'Brien

The undisputed #1 Justin O'Brien in the UK, according to Justin O'Brien