© Charles Chandler
This isn't a technological issue — it's cultural — but I didn't have a folder for cultural issues, so I'm just sticking this brief article here.
In North American society, the standard has been that when a woman gets married, she adopts the last name of her husband. To preserve as much of her former identity as possible, she then changes her middle name to her maiden surname. Recently, husbands and wives have started hyphenating their last names, such that both of them change their names. But apparently nobody considered what would happen when the children with the hyphenated names got married — were they supposed to combine two hyphenated last names into one, made up of four surnames?
Sooner or later, we have to start dropping names. The better way is for everybody to not bother changing their names when the get married, because that's just confusing. Then, the children should get the middle name of the mother's family, and the last name of the father's family. And we should take it for granted that everybody has three names, thus explicitly acknowledging the family names of both parents.
Thereafter, both the maternal and paternal lines will be preserved.