Names means something to a community

Posted: January 31, 2012 in G+ archive, Internet
Tags: , ,

This is a blog-type post I’ve made on August 25th, 2011, on G+. It stands today, as well, when the identity policy seems open to discussion, and the discussion is still clinging to a number of communities assumptions about what a name must look like for them.


An aspect many times missed by the supporters of “knowing who you are talking to” as reason for “real names” (apart from the obvious fact that pseudonyms are known by the people who belong to their community/circle them), is that in reality all these criteria for “knowing who you are speaking to” are thought as if they must be global. They must apply to the whole millions of users one expects here.
Is this a true assumption, though? Using a name is all about being recognized under it, and you will be recognized by those – and only those – who know you under it. Not others. Maybe your readers and commenters, if you’re a blogger or a writer, maybe your users and peers if you’re an open source developer, maybe your sister if you _want_ to use your family identity. Those names (“real” or “pen/stage names”) mean something to a particular community, not to everyone.
Falling back to “government issued ID” names (except for celebrities as it stands) seems governed by the attempt to globalize recognizability. And yet, that is exactly what you cannot ever do.

If you don’t know the person you happen to talk with, from previous actions/interactions (no matter which), then their name on G+ will not tell you anything. I cannot tell who this “John Adams” who comes my way is, unless from the rest of the profile or his posts or a private message he tells me he’s that John Adams that I met [insert here an opportunity, “real world”, including internet use of my real time (sic)]. Only then, I know who I am talking to, in the measure that I know the person, in the measure of my previous interactions with them. And if you didn’t meet him/know him from somewhere, then for you, it’s just a name. You don’t know any better who you are talking to.

My point is not as much that you don’t know if it’s their “real” name or not (whatever that means), we’ve been through that over and over, but rather, that their identity depends on the community they relate to.

This attempt – this fallback to “government ID names” seems essentially the attempt to insinuate an idea for those who don’t know the person, that they could possibly have a sort of impression that they do. A false impression, and false sense of security, as discussed before, since one can sign up under a real-sounding name of course. But also because the most they’d get is perhaps, again, something about the verified identities, about those and those alone, someone who doesn’t know them, may have some sort of guarantee that someone uses those identities as the profile states. (and of course, those who are able to recognize them, may have the confirmation they need).
All the rest is sub-communities recognizing themselves (whether it’s your family community or your gaming community, under their respective identities), and others not recognizing them. No matter what the names look like.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s