If you're reading this, you probably know me as "fluffy." You might be aware of what my real name is (or at least my real first initial), but that's probably not the way you think of me in terms of my identity, unless you're one of the few real-life friends who calls me by my real first name (usually because you're a coworker or family member or the like).
I am of course now on Google+, but Google+ has done something insidious: they've taken the same route as other social networks where they champion the real name as being a much more valid identifier than the way that people actually know me. They've always required a "full" name (so I used the standby "fluffy <3" for that), but now they also specifically prevent non-letters in the fields. Sucks to be you if you're one of the people who have legally changed their name to a mononym or to include a numeral; also sucks to be you if you're one of the people who don't want to broadcast their real name to the Internet.
Google's public policy blog shows that they understand the need for pseudonymous identities, but they seem to have completely forgotten that such a need extends to Internet social circles (despite one of their top examples of such a need being Twitter). In particular, while most fields have a "restriction" field (to show who gets to see it), the real name field does not have such a restriction possibility. Just as with Facebook, your real name is your Internet name.
But even worse, when you change your name on Google+, that applies to all Google products, so suddenly GMail and Reader Shared Items and +1 and so on would refer to me by my legal name. I'm concerned that when my GMail for Domains account is finally merged with my apps account, suddenly my email will be sent with my Google+ name instead of my separately-configured email name. It'll also apply to any other identity-based Google services which may come about later. It's very insidious.
It's also a bit interesting how for all the talk they have about the fine granularity of "circles" for item sharing, they don't apply that granularity to the profile information. There's no way to restrict, say, your phone number or your mailing address only to your "friends" and "family" circles, for example — if someone is in a circle then they get all your information. Maddeningly, this is something even Facebook got right.
Oh well. At least they allow a gender of "other." For now, anyway. Who knows when some product manager will get a hair up their butt about being binary-normative.
See also: The case against drop-down identities, which I just found while searching for other thoughts on this issue. It's only going to get worse.