Saturday, November 18, 2006


NEW ASSIGMENT: You know, last week, when all the guest bloggers were here, two things happened that connect me to this week's area of concentration.
1. Trinity's PR department wanted to invite one member of the press to attend. Which meant that I had to ask the bloggers how they felt about that. Some of them didn't want the Hartford Courant in the room. So I told the newspaper to stay home. But before we even reached that point, the PR department was emailing me to ask which bloggers were coming; and I wrote back, "SpazeBoy, Caffeineted Geek Girl, Genghis Conn ..." And she wrote back, "And they would be ...?" And I refused to elaborate, because there's a kind of finality to blog persona. If you're going to look at blogs, you're going to deal with those personae. But it piqued my interest, as did the bloggers preference that the MSM stay away.
2. And then Gabe, who stayed with us only briefly, said something about why he thinks it's important to use his own name. And that made me realize we have never plunged into this whole area.

Consider this academic blogger who, in February, had a few sharp things to say about her persona.
Now read her current postings. You need to scroll down a few days to see she accidentally outed hereself in a posting, which touched off a series of musings yet again on the issue of anonymity.

We will read and think more about that in the next few days.

We welcome and encourage comments and meddling by outside bloggers.


cgg said...

I think when looking at handles it's also important to remember that they are in fact a persona. A blog isn't a complete picture of who a person is, only what they are willing to share with the world.

I started out as an anonymous blogger who wanted to maintain a certain level of separation. As I become more immersed in political blogging I realized anonymity just wasn't realistic. Anyone who wanted to could figure out who I was could, and in fact a few people did. It took some getting used to.

s p a z e b o y said...

Am I my blog?

No, I'm neither that interesting nor that boring in real life.

On the subject of anonymity, I don't consider myself to be an anonymous blogger. I think that would give me a false sense of security to believe that I could write whatever I want without any repurcussions. One of my first posts on has a scan from the Bristol press with my picture and name.

I'm concerned (rightly or wrongly) that potential employers will run my name through a google search at some point in the future. I don't necessarily want that person to base his or her hiring decision on my political views, my use of vulgarities, or the cuteness of my avatar.

However, at present, a google search for my name (in quotes) returns 536 results, with the first 19 not being me at all. I'm comfortable with that.

Terrence McCarthy said...

cgg hits the nail on the head. Blogs are like persona(l) essays. What you read is what you get, but what you get is just the tip of the iceberg the writer wants you to see. Using your name or not is irrelevent. Hunter S. Thompson signed everything he wrote. I've read much of it. Yet I have no idea who Hunter S. Thompson really was.

Genghis Conn said...

At this point, I'm okay with the idea of my name being out there. For a while, though, I hemmed and hawed about whether I ought to put my name on my site or not, and let my own natural shyness and convince me to try to stay anonymous.

Then I kept meeting people who would talk to me about my blog. After thinking How the f**k do they know? I'd realize that I wasn't, in fact, Batman, and that it wasn't necessarily a bad thing if people knew who I was.

Other people see it differently, though. It's something cultural about the web, I think. Internet users have been using handles since back in the days when USENET roamed the earth. It's a kind of strange egalitarianism--no real names means that you could be anyone, and that you aren't constrained by your actual position in society or your relationship to anyone else.

It makes the internet at once exciting and dangerous.

Aldon Hynes said...

You know, the issue of Anonymity, Personae and Pseudonyms isn't really anything new online, or for that matter offline. There has been a lot of study on Pseudonymity online over the past fifteen years, particularly as it relates to MOOs.

Beyond that, there are people like Mark Twain through "Deep Throat" that have had pseudonyms.

For more on this, I'd encourage you to visit my latest blog post

turfgrrl said...

I've been on the internet for a long time. Over the years I've waged the sisyphian battles against spammers and other marketing harvesters that glob onto any information in order to target their sales pitch. So I don't make it easy online to link the real world identity with the online identity. Data mining of the Internet is happening, and without privacy laws governing who can use and and store personal information I'm very wary.

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