Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More on Anonymity--veinglory

Who are you online? Who are you as an author? Is that identity the real you? Is that identity a real identity?

In an entirely different context science blogger PZ Myer's says: "I consider a consistent pseudonym to be a name. I've gotten to know lots of people on the web via their chosen pseudonym, and that pseudonym acquires its own authority on the merits of the writing behind it. You don't need to reveal your full, legal name to be known on the web — it's good enough to have a handle so we can recognize you." And I think he is entirely correct.

Bloggers are essentially like authors. They can be known by a 'pen name'. Under an assumed name, used consistently a person can be known and even accountable. The person you know from a book or a blog is not exactly the same person known by family or colleagues. But it is still the same person and in some way perhaps more honestly so than in complex offline social situations. The pseudonymous self is known by their content, by their style, by what they know and what they say devoid of the clutter of place, race and face.

Pseudonymity is not anonimity because it is consistent over time and so what they pseudinbymous person does carried weight and has consequences. You invest time, money and emotion in that part of your life and a person, by any name, who is accountable is a person. And at this point, was PODdy Mouth a person, or a sock puppet? It all depends on how strong you feel the pressure was that caused that personna to vanished from the internet.


Jim Murdoch said...

I have no problems with pseudonyms – they have a long and illustrious history – but I do wish some people would choose less awkward pseudonyms. I had a comment recently from 'The Insane Writer'. I mean, I like to use people's names when I respond but, "Thanks, 'Insane Writer'", just doesn't sit well with me. Sure, publish your blog under 'The Insane Writer' but call yourself 'Bob' or 'Sue' or something like that. I'd at least like to know the gender of who I'm talking to. I know it shouldn't matter but it would make me feel a bit better. Age, I'm less fussed about.

Shannon said...

I've always used my real name...Shannon L. Yarbrough. Probably shouldn't have for some erotica pieces I've done for different anthologies, but I could never come up with a good pseudonym. It's like coming up with a good screen name. Back in the day when I first got online I was TruCap...short for Truman Capote because I was obsessed with reading him at the time, but everyone thought it meant True Capricorn. Then I stole Reckless Eyes from a 10,000 Maniacs song, but have since turned it into the name for a blog serial novel I'm writing.

Even now while typing this, I can't think of a good name. I keep recalling strange drag names I used to help a friend out with...Candy Cane, Patty O'Furniture, Allison Wonderland...LOL...yeah, yeah, not very original.

I was shocked to see the PODdy Mouth site come to an end so quickly after the actions of Angela Hoy. I was looking forward to the cat fights that would ensue, but the dry wit and attitude of PODdy rang in my head and she (or he) probably just said "Oh f*** it!" Although it looked like Angela ran them off.

Yours Truly,
Amanda Hugnkiss

Will Entrekin said...

Oh, there's certainly a difference between pseudonymous and anonymous, and you're certainly right that POD-dy mouth was probably more a sock puppet than a blogger--anonymous sock puppets are all over the place (remember the ones who attacked me, way back in the day, over at the PODler? I think that was my first-ever encounter with you, Emily, and while I knew you were going by a nom-de-blog, I also immediately placed you to be one classy lady).

I think that's the difference; it's what you say pseudonymously. Too often, anonymous/pseudonymous comments state things their authors don't want their names, real or otherwise, associated with. Too often people state anonymously what they don't have the cojones (or ovaries) to stand behind.

Not always, though.

I know lots of cool people solely by their handles. Indeed, I've been to social functions where people knew each other solely by their handles. And everyone had a blast.

It's not the handle, pseudonymous or otherwise--it's whether the person on the other end of it is being a douchebag or not.