[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Tuesday, 2011-08-23

On the value of pseudonyms

Filed under: Privacy,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 14:55
Google+ protest image

In case you weren’t already tired of hearing about this (heh… heheh), here is an opinion from a scientist blogger (or perhaps a blogging scientist) on the value of pseudonyms.

Our new Scienceblogs overlords sure have great timing with their new pseudonymous blogging rules. For those who haven’t run across that yet, National Geographic has decided to eliminate pseudonyms and force everyone with a blog remaining here (which is already dwindling) to blog under their real names. Meanwhile, out here in the real world, there’s a new unfortunate case study (short version: “EpiGate”) showing how blogging under one’s real name can lead to serious threats and potential loss of employment, among other things.

(from On the value of pseudonyms, Scienceblogs)

Mothers (who may or may not also be scientists) also have an opinion on the subject.

Those who have the knee-jerk response of “Well, anyone who doesn’t want to use their real name has got something to hide or is just out to cause trouble” are, at best, cosmically misinformed. The notion that if “real names” (a term which, by the way, is nearly impossible to define – go ahead, give it a try) are good enough for the wealthy geeks at Google it should be good enough for anyone just reeks of massive privilege. (Frankly, the way Google’s been implementing their ‘policy’ also reeks of colonialism – if you’ve got a nice, comfortable looking ‘wasponym‘ as your name at G+, you’re probably fine, it seems, at least based on what people have been documenting about their clownish banning and reinstatement behavior so far.) I’ve been reading, thinking, and writing about identity and privacy stuff for more than a decade, and the more I learn, the more I come to agree with jwz, who said:

the other night I had dinner with a friend which turned into an hour long argument over it, because he thought that forcing everyone to use their real names was just fine. This is someone I’ve known for decades, so to say that I was shocked and horrified by his attitude is an understatement. It was as if my friend had suddenly started beginning sentences with, “I’m not a racist, but…”

(from Quick Thoughts on Parents and Pseudonymity, CurrentMom)

Meanwhile, Information Week gives us 5 reasons Google+’s name policy fails, TechEye offers concrete suggestions on How to stop Facebook and Google trampling on your privacy rights, and over on ZDNet, Violet Blue (who has been banned and reinstated by Google+ for using her “real” name at least twice now) declares, “Google Plus: too much unnecessary drama“.