You Win, Broken Database Schemas

Published on , 767 words, 3 minutes to read

There is no software that correctly handles names that exists on this planet. One of the major things I have bashed my head into as of late is the assumption that people have a first and a last name. The first name is usually what identifies the person, and the last name usually identifies the family.

I have wanted to use Xe as my name places (no last name, like Socrates), but everyone has broken database schemas that make it impossible. These schemas usually look like this:

  ( id          VARCHAR  PRIMARY KEY  DEFAULT (uuid4())
  , first_name  VARCHAR  NOT NULL
  , last_name   VARCHAR  NOT NULL
  -- draw the rest of the owl

And as a result things like Xe (no last name) cannot fit into this schema. I have found out the depth of this shitshow while trying to use my handle as my name on newly registered account things and the amount of stuff that breaks or works in weird ways is staggering. Email salutations look like this:

Hello Xe ,

Forms will break if I don't put a last name in the field. The assumptions about names are so deep that it's rapidly becoming not worth it to only have my name as Xe. Not to mention overzealous journalists that will argue with you over what your name is due to name collisions.

You win, broken database schemas. I give up trying to deal with you to encode my name correctly. You just don't let me and I am tired of fighting it, opening support tickets and arguing with people over what my name is. I give in. I'm going to use a last name for my handle, which is absolutely ridiculous, but here we are.

It took me a few hours to dig through ideas over the weekend and today, but I think I have found something satisfactory enough that I can keep it for the long haul: Iaso (ai-uh-so, /aɪ.ə.soʊ/), the minor Greek goddess of recovering from illness.

Hopefully I don't have to deal with professional issues as a result of me trying to be more true to myself about my identity. At the very least I want very little to do with the last name that I was born into. Some day that name will be removed from the last database with it set, but today is not that day.

If you work on systems that handle names, please, please, please take the time to reconsider if you actually need to deal with a last name for more reason than it's the cultural standard. There are valid reasons to have a mononym, and by supporting mononyms you will make people's lives easier.

Until then, I am Xe Iaso. Let's see where this phase of the identity experiment goes. It's still really complicated. Anyone who claims to have their identity figured out is either in denial or stopped digging into it for the time being. The rabbit hole truly never ends.

The main thing I don't like about this name is how ambiguous it shows up in sans-serif fonts:

Xe Iaso

It looks like Xe laso. I've edited my email signature to try and compensate for this:

Xe Iaso (zi ai-uh-so)

.i la budza pu cusku lu
 <<.i ko snura .i ko kanro
   .i ko panpi .i ko gleki

Let's see if that helps. It will probably look bad when things are put into sans-serif fonts, but what can you do lol.

Also I would prefer you call me Xe from now on when possible. This conflicts with and supercedes suggestions I made in this article. I consider most of that experiment to have worked out and I am going into the next phase, albeit less "pure" than I wanted.

Thank you for sticking with this blog. This started out as a place for me to get better at writing but has rapidly turned into something that has helped me explore my identity in ways that I never would have thought it would. Thanks for following the rabbit hole. Thank you for supporting me being more authentic to myself about who I am. Your support means more than you possibly will know.

I wonder if my SEO craft is strong enough to get me high on the list of google results for Iaso.

Facts and circumstances may have changed since publication. Please contact me before jumping to conclusions if something seems wrong or unclear.

Tags: rant