Posts Tagged ‘Pseudonym’

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.


Down the same road

Posted: January 28, 2012 in Internet
Tags: , ,

There we go again. Google+ nymwars.

The changes in the Google+ identity policy are not exactly changing anything in practice. Technogran was receiving yesterday the same canned email as several months ago, having her name rejected, despite being a well-known internet identity, and not exactly as aesthetically unpleasing to a WASP crowd as “captaincrunch42” either. (not that the latter would be a problem to me).

Same goes for Culture Monroe, receiving notice that her name is a “fake” to Google. As long as Google claims to know what your name must look like, otherwise they declare it a “fake”, the process will always come across as offending and with 1984-style requirements of “your ID card”…
By the way, this is both her wallet name and writer name.

Lets get something straight here.
People invest time and work in building their identity, it is essential to them, to build a reputation under a name, and this means something. Whether it is their given name or nom de plume, in many contexts and endeavours. Assuming the role of “I know best who you can be, depends on your number of followers and my assessment of WASPy sensibilities to your kinda ugly-looking name” is not only doomed to fail, but unfortunately for you, Google, it is *insulting* to people, the same people who you earn the trust of, or they take it back from you.
Or I should rather say. I hope they do take it back. Yes, you read that right.

Google. This is how it works. I’ll quote again the simple and brilliant note Angyl Bender made a few days ago.
If I know who you are, your handle doesn’t matter.
If I don’t know who you are, your handle doesn’t matter.