T Initial

What’s in a Name

T InitialWhat’s in a name? Well, my name, Tim Tyson, is more common than I would have thought, especially since I rarely meet anyone named “Tim.” But there are several Tim Tysons, and recently I learned of another. In the digital era, things swirling around name can easily get confused1.

Perhaps the most well known is an American writer and historian, in North Carolina, who writes about race, the civil rights movement, culture and religion in the 20th century. He has been the subject of some controversy from time to time. I think he is a professor at Duke. I occasionally receive an email from someone who thinks I’m him.

Then there’s Tim Tyson, from the United Kingdom, a documentary film maker who contracts with the BBC and others to shoot documentary projects around the world. I first became aware of this Tim when I began to get emails (lots of them!) concerning his production and international travel schedules. Our email addresses are almost identical, and my email address accidentally ended up on several distribution lists. His mother, a charming lady in London, has called me via FaceTime at least a dozen times.

Of course, she’s trying to reach her son, but, again, our email addresses are almost identical. Calling “the wrong number” takes on a whole new dimension when you can suddenly see this unknown person on the other end of the call. I mean, what do you say? “Who are you?!” Imagine, “Oh, I’m calling for my son.” “But, you’re not my mother.” “Oh, I know. But is Tim Tyson there?” “Well, yes. I’m Tim Tyson.” “But you don’t look like my son.” …

We have a Tim Tyson who works for NASA.

There’s another Tim Tyson who lives in San Francisco. He was a real estate attorney for years and then switched to intellectual property. (I’m thinking he also moved to LA but am not sure.) I stumbled upon him when, over 10 years ago, I wanted to purchase timtyson.com. He had already bought the domain name and had a website about his practice. Currently, he still owns the domain name but has no web presence.

And this week, I was confused with yet another Tim Tyson. Apparently he’s a musician working with the Temptations.

You know, I was flagged on the terrorist watch list for a short time because someone in Colorado apparently has the same legal name and has pissed off the government somehow. (The immigration officers kept asking me how long I’d lived in Colorado. Of course, I’ve never lived in Colorado!) The matter was cleared up in a relatively short time, but can you imagine! This digital stuff is too easily confused to allow the NSA to spy on the whole damned world!

Life in the 21st century never ceases to amuse me.


  1. And you trust the NSA to keep it in order while they spy on you?!