Real Names

Google+ suspends accounts who supposedly violate their real name policy. Google+ then restores accounts of those mistakenly suspended. There are naturally advocates for those seeking to be online under a pseudonym. There do seem to be legitimate reasons to communicate online under a less than real name. Harassment by bullies, stalkers, criminals is just one. Employers are known to fire employees for expressing political opinions, photographs of Macs delivered to Microsoft, and other questionable online expressions. Which is easier? Operate online under a pseudonym or have a good lawyer? Female authors used to publish books under male names because publishers rejected the same manuscript. African-American and Hispanic sounding names on resumes are rejected when the identical one under a Caucasian name is extended an interview.

Then there is the question of brand identity. There were a few years when most people having conversations with me most days in a week knew me as something other than Ezra. Danah describes it nicely…

The thing about the tech crowd is that it has a long history of nicks and handles and pseudonyms. And this crowd got to define the early social norms of the site, rather than being socialized into the norms set up by trusting college students who had joined a site that they thought was college-only. This was not a recipe for “real name” norm setting. Quite the opposite. Worse for Google… Tech folks are VERY happy to speak LOUDLY when they’re pissed off. So while countless black and Latino folks have been using nicks all over Facebook (just like they did on MySpace btw), they never loudly challenged Facebook’s policy. There was more of a “live and let live” approach to this. Not so lucky for Google and its name-bending community.

Of course, there is another side where trolls (people who attack others online), bullies, spammers, and phishers abuse the system. Every web site struggles to deal with these issues. Too large a volume of negativity can kill off a social network. The exodus from Friendster and Myspace started when visitors saw more spam in the Inbox than legitimate messages than friends. Every social network has to figure out how to deal with misuse. Enforcement of aggressive policies are a legitimate strategy when just starting out the idea is not to screw up where the competitor you seek to replace is failing. With enough push back by users, Google+ will figure out what is and is not acceptable. Or… We will find somewhere else.

See! Simple.

Social Ghost Archetypes

I met Allie for the second time at a birthday party. The birthday girl is a Social Tech Ghost. Allie is a Pseudonym Surfer and former Dunbarian. Another person at the party is an Infrequent Checker. I decided these remain legitimate strategies to keep from getting drawn into spending too much time online. Since I like to label things, Social Ghosts, stuck in my head. From the perspective of someone relying on social network web sites to communicate, these are difficult people to locate, keep, or reach. Much like ghosts.
🙂

The Social Tech Ghost: This person entirely abstains from social network web sites. This is a person who wants to see you in person or talk to you on the phone. Email is grudgingly accepted. Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and Friendster are accused of ruining friendships due to being impersonal. They are fads to be resisted in order to maintain strong social bonds. Probably this person would be a fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s article Small Change except they do not read my blog post about weak ties, Twitter, or Facebook so they did not know about me posting the article.

The Pseudonym Surfer Ghost: He or she participates online under fake names. You drop them from your friend list because you have no idea who they are. They might work in an environment hostile to employees getting tagged in photos of wild parties. They might be online to interact with a handful of family and close friends not any random acquaintance who feels they deserve to be friends.

The Infrequent Checker Ghost: This person has a profile. However, months can go by between logins. Peer pressure forced them to get an account, but there is no peer pressure to actually use it.

The Dunbarian Ghost: Too many “friends” causes this person to purge. The right number may or may not be Dunbar’s Number: a mean of 147.8. What is important is the person feels the need to be social with everyone on the list of friends and too many makes that too hard. Therefore some need to get lost.

I am sure there are more. What other social ghost archetypes do you know?

P.S. From the “In Real Life” perspective, I am a Social Ghost. So. Meh.

Online Intimacy

All too often I follow the breadcrumbs wherever they lead me online. So I stumble across some pretty random stuff. Thus why my RSS reader contains way too much stuff to reasonably read. (That reminds me, I need to cull a couple hundred subscriptions again.)

Well, I found the anonymous blog of a woman in my extended social network (no, not the Web 2.0 sense). There is enough evidence to know who the owner is a specific person 2 degrees away. The one thing which confused me was her use of a pseudonym for talking about someone who was in the news.

Having read just posts covering the last 18 months, I don’t think I could meet her without bursting into tears. She has had a horrible time with three deaths of family or friends, a wedding which didn’t happen, and verbal abuse at work. Tragic stuff has just bombarded her. These horrible events interlacing insightful commentary about media make me sad. Yet I was only able to make myself stop in order to write this post.

Someone who invests the time and energy to publicly write about the difficult personal details of his or her life really impresses me. Years ago I kept journals which became where I expressed many of the emotions I ought to have instead given to the people around me. Whether positive or negative, people deserved to know how I felt about them. Instead pieces of paper received the intimate details of who I was. My friends got a Vulcan. This blog is rather impersonal because I figured out early on in blogging, people who know me would find an anonymous blog and read it for any mention of themselves.

At this point I no longer even try to hide. Anyone reading it knows in seconds Ezra writes it and whether or not they know Ezra. Then again, these cold emotionless bytes are for public consumption.

Irony would be if she reads this post and mentions it. The above details are obvious enough she would almost certainly know I am talking about her. I am relying on the same tricks of not using names of people and places to avoid making it too obvious. They didn’t work for her. So I have one last thing to possibly break the anonymity: We both use the words “rants” and “raves” in the blog titles/subtitles.

Homer a Pseudonym for a Woman?

I have always considered the Illiad or the Odyssey to be among the best of love stories. True, there is lots of violence. True, the characters are mostly men. Love is the motivation and driving force behind the heros and why each is able to overcome and win.

If they were written by women, then that will not change my opinion about them being my favorites.

Discovery Channel :: News – History :: Scholar: Iliad, Odyssey Penned by Woman:

The author of the Greek epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey was probably a woman, according to an upcoming book by a British historian and linguist.

Andrew Dalby, author of Rediscovering Homer, argues that the attribution of the poems to Homer was founded on a falsehood.

Homer’s link to the poems, Dalby writes, stems from an “ill-informed postclassical text, the anonymous Life of Homer, fraudulently ascribed to Herodotus,” a respected Greek historian who lived from around 484-425 B.C.

Read moreHomer a Pseudonym for a Woman?