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Back home, they know your mother's maiden name


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June 19, 2006

Back home, they know your mother's maiden name

Stephen Baker

Think of a "security solutions" expert at one of the portals or e-commerce sites. He looks around the room at his colleagues gathered in Dulles or Sunnyvale any tech exurb, and he thinks: What is it about me that no one here could guess? For a generation now, the answer has been, "My mother's maiden name." David Weinberger says it's time for new clues.

The maiden name question reflects a blind spot of the tech culture: the missing village. The usual path for an ambitious person in tech is to leave home. So it's natural to assume that everyone else has a life path full of twists, turns, and trans-continental moves. But in towns and villages across the world, one of the many things people know about their friends and neighbors is the mother's maiden name. Some might even recall who caught the bouquet at her wedding. (Maybe that could be a new clue.)

Just a small sign that people (including myself, I'll be the first to admit) often fall out of step with billions of other earthlings.

10:18 AM

society, spam and other abuses

Great post. I live in a part of the country where folks often know everybody's maiden and where the often-asked question a prospective beau is "Who are his people?" Not only that, those "mother's maiden names" often show up as given and middle names.

This post got me thinking, not just about personal security, but also about human scale in organizations. That's the sort of thing Charles Handy wrote about, but also which folks like Ricardo Semler try to make part of their organizations.

Posted by: Wally Bock at June 19, 2006 11:38 AM

For hundreds of millions of Latinos Mother's maiden name is a very public affair. In Spanish speaking countries people's surnames are a combination of father's and mother's surname. If someone is called Juan Gonzalez Perez his mother's maiden name is obviously Perez...

Posted by: Klaas Brumann at June 19, 2006 11:45 AM

1 jalka http://www.1-jalka.s3ksss.com [URL=http://www.1-jalka.s3ksss.com]1 jalka[/URL]

Posted by: Bruno at June 21, 2006 10:20 AM

I've always thought that particular question to be very old-fashioned. Many women today keep their birth names - time for a new question. I prefer the ones you can write yourself, so it can be truly unique.

Posted by: bree at June 23, 2006 07:28 PM


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