Gadget Lab Podcast: The Allure of OG Usernames


Product designer and internet native Chris Messina was lucky enough to snag the username @chris on Instagram back when Instagram was known as Burbn, and, like all of his early usernames, it became a part of his digital identity. But having an OG username has exposed him to hacks, scams, and generally shady online exchanges. It has also lead him down the path of more existential questions about life online––like, is the internet still fun? On this week’s Gadget Lab podcast we talk to Chris about the biggest offer he’s ever been made for his name, ephemerality in apps, and what the future of social media looks like once the concept of “following” goes away.

Also covered in this episode of the Gadget Lab podcast, which was taped on Valentine’s Day: Amazon’s big break up with New York City. After a months-long search for “HQ2” that ended in an eventual commitment to build out corporate offices in Long Island City, Queens, Amazon has now backed out of the deal. While not everyone is happy about Amazon’s retreat, there were also plenty of good reasons for the resistance to the deal.

Show notes: You can read WIRED’s story about Amazon backing out of New York City here. Say goodbye to NASA’s Mars Opportunity rover here. And if you want to see what Chris has been up to, follow the hashtag #Noyoucanthavemyusername on Twitter.

Chris Messina recommends Arielle Pardes recommends the Tokimeki unfollow tool. Lauren Goode recommends Becoming, by Michelle Obama. Mike Calore recommends Nanban, by Tim Anderson.

Send the Gadget Lab hosts feedback on their personal Twitter feeds. Arielle Pardes can be found at @pardesoteric. Lauren Goode is @laurengoode. Michael Calore can be found at @snackfight.

Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. Our theme song is by Solar Keys.

How to Listen

You can always listen to this week’s podcast through the audio player on this page, but if you want to subscribe for free to get every episode, here’s how:

If you’re on an iPhone or iPad, open the app called Podcasts, or just tap this link. You can also download an app like Overcast or Pocket Casts, and search for Gadget Lab. And in case you really need it, here’s the RSS feed.

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