21 Oct

I came across danah boyd’s website today. She doesn’t capitalize her name, or the word I. She even legally changed her name to danah michele boyd, without caps. This is an idea with room in my heart.

Even though it stuns and/or upsets regular folks with capitalized names, danah charges on. She does it to honor her mother (you’ll have to read about visual balance as a consideration in choosing danah’s name–“Danah” looses its balance), and she does it because capitalizing names and first person pronouns seems self-righteous. It puts “I” above “we” and “they.”

Names are just one label–one way of describing our self–they’re certainly not us. We’re each and all so much more than a name or adjective. And most of us never even choose our own name anyway, right? Names are like genes handed down from our parents–same as my blue eyes and brown hair and bad knees.

I’m with danah. Here are several variations of my name, you be the judge:

Joseph Bartmann

Joe Bartmann

joe bartmann

joe bart


Lowercase wins. It does have balance, and humility. Like danah, I love my name in lowercase. It gets better with each simplification moving down the list, eventually landing on just the initials. I guess many kids like fixing their name to all kinds of places and stuff. I’ve always been fascinated by those initials “jb.” There’s just balance and simplicity in there that can’t be found in “Joe Bartmann.”  And, there’s more.

Lowercase is more beautiful, easier to read, and more flexible. It is visually appealing, artistic, creative and hip. It’s more stylish and minimalist–even more “fashionable,” as my niece might say. It feels more designed; more architectural. I love it’s attitude and it’s innocence.

crazy, huh?


Posted by on October 21, 2009 in etc.


Tags: ,

2 responses to “lowercase

  1. CA Heidelberger

    October 22, 2009 at 8:53 am

    I dig danah (her Berkeley dissertation on teens and social media is fascinating!). I also dig e.e. cummings, who owns lowercase the way Jackson Pollock owns drip and splash painting.

    But I still dig my caps. On my own name, I like the ascenders, the opposing balance of tall C and dropping y, the pointy A dancing with the l’s, the staunch H anchoring the long train that follows.

    And in text, I still want my caps. Signaling a new thought is more work than a meager period should be made to do. Caps send that signal better and make lines of text more varied. All lowercase text feels like Russian — I dig Russian, but their letters, mostly identical upper- and lowercase forms, make for monotonous, blocky lines in print.

  2. bobbi

    November 2, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    apparently, i’ve been cool for quite awhile, as i have done this consistently for the last 5 years or so.

    drives english majors nuts.


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