The calm at the center of a pearl

July 26, 2007

Slurk and peer, or “take control of your identity”?

Filed under: Journaling — kyraninse @ 12:50 am

WordPress now has a neat little add-on for Facebook that allows your blog to be shown and referenced on your Facebook account.

Frankly, whilst I say, “Kudos for making such a spiffy widget!”, the other side of me is going, “meh”.

This isn’t just because I don’t usually use Facebook. I could go in about how Facebook just doesn’t manage to tickle my fancy, but that would be another whole lengthy blog post.

The main problem I have is: I’m pretty sure I don’t want this blog associated with the real-life me. Aside from the usual suspects, such as boss, co-workers, ex-classmates, and etc — there are some blog-posts that I don’t want anyone that knows me to read, period.

One main issue is regarding the workplace. More than one blogger has been fired because of what they said on their blogs, the most notorious possibly being Michael Hanscom. (my guess being that was mostly because he was fired by Microsoft) Considering that a good deal of us spend at least 40 hours at the workplace, that’s a big part of your life you’re excising if you’re completely discreet. And face it, who wants to be completely discreet? That’s like, totally boring, dude.

Another issue is, since my blog is very much a cheese sandwich blog, I do like to do the “Dear diary” schtick every once in a while. As such, there’s always the possibility that I could be ranting about anything, from how my menses haven’t visited in 3 months to how much I hate my grandfather to why-the-fuck can’t friend A keep her blooming mouth shut once in a while?! I once made the immensely naive (and stupid) mistake of talking about personal issues regarding high school and so such, and immediately got flamed out of the water by a good number of “anons” for being an ingrate and a bitch and so on and so forth. Sometimes people can’t see past the (temporary) hurt and anger in a post and the resulting knee-jerk reactions would probably be able to power a couple households if harnessed. One would hope that you could talk to the person in question eventually, but it’s often best to let it simmer a bit first.

Anil Dash says that:

“I own my name. I am the first, and definitive, source of information on me.

One of the biggest benefits of that reality is that I now have control. The information I choose to reveal on my site sets the biggest boundaries for my privacy on the web. Granted, I’ll never have total control. But look at most people, especially novice Internet users, who are concerned with privacy. They’re fighting a losing battle, trying to prevent their personal information from being available on the web at all. If you recognize that it’s going to happen, your best bet is to choose how, when, and where it shows up.

That’s the future. Own your name. Buy the domain name, get yourself linked to, and put up a page. Make it a blank page, if you want. Fill it with disinformation or gibberish. Plug in other random people’s names into Googlism and paste their realities into your own. Or, just reveal the parts of your life that you feel represent you most effectively on the web. Publish things that advance your career or your love life or that document your travels around the world. But if you care about your privacy, and you care about your identity, take the steps to control it now.

In a few years, it won’t be as critical. There will be a reasonably trustworthy system of identity and authorship verification. Finding a person’s words and thoughts across different media and time periods will be relatively easy. Getting a “true” picture of that person might be possible, even simple. But that’s years away. For now, recognize that you’re a celebrity, treat your likeness and personal information with that gravity, and choose which statements and facts are going to represent your presence in the global media universe. Any adult in an industrialized society who hasn’t taken these steps is forfeiting opportunity and security, out of either laziness or ignorance. Maintaining privacy in the face of corporations and governments that wish to violate it requires a bit of identity judo, neutralizing their desire for everything by freely giving away just a little bit.”

(I decided to copy and paste in case of distorting through paraphrasing)**

I’m not sure I entirely agree with him, however. For the average person who is posting a “dear diary” blog, it is entirely possible that with careful planning (such as using Tor and being extremely discreet), that person will never have any problems. What really comes back to haunt, I think, is when the author wants, on some sub-conscious level for that person to read what’s written about him. Granted, there might be the juicy little detail let slip that might have convinced the person in question that yes indeedy, that post IS about you — but masking your IP and not posting pictures or crucial details should be enough for the average person. Of course, if you go gold and have a couple thousand hits per day, things might become slightly more complicated.

If you have a blog that is more ‘professional’ in outlook in which you write only about politics and other such that is highly controversial — then you might need to “claim your identity” so that what you say, and only what you say, can be attributed to you. In those circumstances you might have a problem with or without being accurately identified as having said something.

The rest of us mundanes can rest easy, more or less.

Peter Wells, happily (or unhappily) enough, was fairly accurate in saying that (most of) the rest of the world really doesn’t care.

** Apologies if this infringes upon copyright and I will edit and paraphrase if so required.

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