I get asked "Is Serdar Yegulalp your real name?" a lot. I answer, yes; some things are too offbeat to be made up. I usually also reply with an invitation to play a game: Try to guess where it's from. To my surprise, people guess in roughly the right geographic area — eastern Europe — but they almost never get it right on the first, or even the second or third, shot. (It's Turkey.)
I never imagined that having a name like that would get me into trouble without even trying, but that's more or less what happened when I first started using the Internet at large, as opposed to enclaves like AOL or CompuServe (where I got my start). Turned out I'd chosen to start posting to USENET right around the same time as the infamous serdar-argic, and my puzzlement as to why my posts weren't being acknowledged a good deal of the time led me to a quick-and-dirty lesson about killfiles and cancelbots. (Needless to say, I am not "Serdar Argic", whoever he may be.)
I could have changed it, I guess, but two things happened. One, I realized I was growing up in a generation where first names like "Trent", "Lokesh" and "Suji" were becoming more and more common; "Serdar" wasn't as huge a stretch anymore. (Yes, I think "Trent" is a funny name. I used to giggle at the word "Chicago", too.)
Fortunately, in my case, they're nothing to be ashamed of. In 1994 I pounced at the chance to join the staff of Windows Magazine, owned by what was at the time CMP Media. I remained there until 2001, when the magazine was closed down, and loved every second of it.
From '01 through '07 I freelanced for a whole slew of different publications, mainly TechTarget.com and later on InformationWeek. The latter had the distinction of bring another CMP publication, and when they asked me to come on board at the end of '07, I realized I'd be coming right back home.
I left InformationWeek at the end of 2009, and was for a time the anime guide for the About.com family of sites. After filling that position for a few years, I created my own anime and Japanese pop-culture analysis site, Ganriki. My current day job is with Infoworld, where I'm doing many of the same duties that I fulfilled at InformationWeek -- writing about information technology in business.
I didn't end up employing a pseudonym for USENET, but I did — sort of — for my web presence: The Gline. I didn't know gline was a term used on IRC; in fact, I'd pretty much come up with the handle at random by throwing together five letters at a time. I also didn't know Vaughn Bode had created an underground comic by the same name, written entirely in a kind of Nordic-Esperanto gibberish. Strange serendipity at work.
To that end, I registered and kept the domain name thegline.com for something like fourteen years. I used it as the generic label for everything that I worked on, from dabblings in music to writing to you-name-it. Over time, though, I realized the label was too generic: it was an empty container that was to be filled, cf. Richard Hell's comments about the Blank Generation, but it was too empty. It needed replacing.
I spent most of a day filling a blank notepad with ideas, mostly garnered from the fascinations in my life. From my longstanding love of things Japanese, I garnered Genji, along with the crest used by said clan during their reign. Press came from the nature of what I was doing. But since then my interests have grown past that one box, and I decided to rebrand with a name that seems more in line with a science-fiction-and-fantasy flavor: Infinimata.