My thoughts on pseudo-identities

I’m not sure if this is the sort of thing I should be posting on my blog now or not, especially with the project I’m working on, but I think it is awfully spot on: it’s an entry from Design Observer, “What’s in a name?” I mean, part of my research has to do with the ways in which bloggers and commentators portray identity online, and I guess I should appear to be neutral on that. But as this and other posts from the past suggest, I’m not neutral on this, and my experiences as the sitedad over at have made me even less neutral. Anyway, a long passage that sort of sums up the problems here:

A rose is a rose, and a real name at the end of a blog post is an indication that the person who authored the statement is taking responsibility, indeed ownership of the words — it is a simple act of honesty. For too long bloggers have been given license that is not tolerated in letters-to-the-editor columns of newspapers and magazines (except in extraordinary circumstances). If one is willing to expound, exclaim, or critique it should be done under a real name and with links to a valid email or website address. If transparency on the web is the new black, then there should be no secrets.

Pseudonyms like “miss representation” or “Xman” or “Pesky Illustrator” or “Inaudible Nonsense,” or even the passionate, erudite “DesignMaven,” are not cute, they are cowardly. This indictment holds true for those who only use their first names as well (the many known only as Nancy or Chris, Dan or Steve). If a blogger or responder does not have the courage to own up to his or her ideas then why should readers accept or respond to them? Having a pseudonym is not about, as some argue, building a brand story or mystique; it is about masking identity, which is inherently deceitful. Unless one has a good reason — like being on a black list or having a life in peril by a repressive government — the practice of anonymity should be considered unacceptable.

Maybe this will show up in a book chapter on identity eventually– maybe with some counter-arguments from the “pro-pseudonym” camp.

2 thoughts on “My thoughts on pseudo-identities”

  1. Just for the heck of it, I’ll add my comment here instead of on

    I think your mention of the wikileaks in your post really distinguishes the line between what I would see as a legitimate and less than legitimate role of anonymous blogging, or anonymous behavior on the internet in general. If someone is trying to blow a whistle and is afraid of reprisals, loosing their job, etc., then I can see the point of anonymity. But in my experiences with blogs and the internet in general, folks are anonymous to allude responsibility and to more or less throw bombs.

    It’s a tough call. But when it comes to academic blogs generally (the kind of blogs I am most likely to read), I think that the reasons that most anonymous bloggers have for remaining hidden are specious. And when it comes to, well, I think most of the anonymous bloggers there enjoy not being known.

    Present company not included, of course. ;-)

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