Tag Archives: pseudonymat

Sometimes We Need Pseudonyms

[fr] Pourquoi on a besoin de l'anonymat et du pseudonymat en ligne.

Ten years ago, if I’d spent over an hour reading stuff on a website, I would probably have written a blog post about it. Not necessarily a long blog post. But I would have blogged about it.

Nowadays, I share the link on Twitter and Facebook. (I’m having trouble dragging myself to Google+, for some reason, and only just signed up for App.net — can I please have a client that allows me to post to all four at the same time? maybe even with customized text for each, but from the same place? please?)

So today, here’s My Name Is Me. Picked up on Twitter, and I’ve already forgotten through who. Click on some names there. Read the stories.

I’m a self-confessed fan of real names (it goes way back) — but I’m by far not an absolutist. I believe in trying to live an “integrated” life, in being as whole as reasonably possible in the various aspects of my life. I’m lucky to have a life and circumstances which make that pursuit realistic. Though I have my secrets and I do value my privacy (even if it doesn’t include certain things many others would consider private) I am not in a situation where there are whole aspects of my life I need to keep from certain people. I’m straight, I don’t have an employer, I’m not in a job like teaching or being a therapist or a lawyer where my personal life could be of interest to the people I work with, I’m not well-known enough for fame (or that of others close to me) to mess up my relations with people, I’m not an abuse survivor or an activist. I have it easy.

Like many of the people sharing their stories on My Name Is Me, I don’t believe enforcing real names will eliminate bad behaviour. I think it’s reasonably legitimate for some spaces to ask people to use their most stable identity (usually their “real name”), but there are always edge cases. I also believe there is a huge difference between “anonymity” (often short-lived and slippery) and a stable pseudonymic identity accompanied by a verifiable reputation. I think such identities are fragile, but sometimes they are the less bad solution.

I started off my life online very careful (almost paranoid) about keeping my real name a secret. I was afraid. Afraid of all these “strangers” populating the internet, the weirdos I might stumble upon. After a while I chose a pseudonym which I started using (“Tara Star“) as my “real name”. Some people knew my real name, but most didn’t. I was active on Webdesign-L at the time, and remember that I began feeling increasingly uneasy that (a) all the people around me seemed to be using their civilian identity, and I was kind of “cheating” and (b) I was building a reputation for myself which was not connected to who I “really” was. That’s an important bit: Tara Star was just a buffer for me between who I was and this strange online world that still scared me. Who I was was Stephanie Booth. I took the plunge to ditch Tara and be fully Stephanie online when I registered the domain name for this blog — also realizing that the domain registration made it possible for me to be looked up.

Trolls and haters are a problem online. The fact they are often (not always) anon/pseudonymous does not mean that others don’t have valid reasons for hiding their identities, nor that they are unable to use a pseudonym responsibly.

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Posted in Connected Life | Tagged anonymat, anonymity, identité, identity, name, pseudonym, pseudonymat, real name | Leave a comment

Bloguer anonymement

[en] Two reasons, in my opinion, explain why people might want to blog anonymously: (a) to prevent people they know from reading what they write on their blog; (b) to prevent unknown people who read the blog from tracking them down. In both cases, there is a desire to create some kind of barrier between online and offline. In the first case, the aim is to prevent offline from penetrating online. In the second one, it is to prevent online from penetrating offline.

I think people who "go anonymous" for the first reason are those who are at risk of losing their jobs, falling out with family and friends, or at best, spend a few embarrassing moments if they are "outed". I personally think it's a pretty risky thing to do. On the other hand, I think the second reason can make sense, and even be a sensible choice in some cases -- for example, in the case of a lawyer who would not want to be contacted for professional reasons by people who know him through his weblog.

Lors de la première séance du “projet weblogs” avec les élèves (plus de détails prochainement, et un weblog séparé pour traiter de tout ça), nous avons discuté du fait que nous ne les laissons pas publier de manière “anonyme”. Bien sûr, leur nom de famille n’est pas révélé, mais leur véritable prénom l’est.

J’ai mis en avant ce que je considère depuis longtemps être les dangers du pseudonymat sur le web (je ne vais pas m’étaler, je l’ai fait bien assez déjà ): on risque de se permettre d’écrire des choses que l’on serait bien embarrasé d’assumer devant son employeur, ses grands-parents, ses copains ou la voisine du dessus.

En lisant Eolas, j’ai eu une soudaine illumination. En effet, je vois maintenant deux grandes familles de raisons pour lesquelles on pourrait vouloir ne pas révéler son identité sur son weblog:

  1. on ne désire pas que les gens qui nous connaissent puissent avoir accès à  ce que l’on écrit en ligne (on cache ce qu’on écrit)
  2. on ne désire pas que des inconnus puissent accéder à  son identité (on se cache).

La première est bien entendu celle qui peut nous valoir un jour ou l’autre de nous brouiller avec famille et amis, de perdre notre emploi, ou de subir encore d’autres conséquences désagreables.

La seconde raison est celle qu’invoque Eolas. Il est avocat, et ne désire certainement pas être contacté par le biais de son weblog pour des raisons professionnelles ou paraprofessionnelles. Je n’ai pas l’impression en le lisant, cependant, (qu’il me corrige si je me trompe, mais dans tous les cas, c’est un cas de figure que l’on pourrait imaginer) qu’il se retrouverait embarrassé d’une façon ou d’une autre si son entourage apprenait l’existence de ce weblog. Il serait même tout à  fait possible que les personnes qu’il connaît soient parfaitement au courant de ses écrits en ligne, sans que cela pose problème.

Si l’on choisit l’anonymat (ou le pseudonymat) pour son weblog, c’est qu’on est à  la recherche d’une certaine étanchéité entre sa vie d’auteur de weblog, et sa vie “tout court”. Dans le premier cas de figure, on cherche à  empêcher les gens faisant partie de notre vie hors-ligne de pénétrer dans la sphère du weblog; dans le deuxième cas, on cherche à  empêcher la sphère du weblog de déborder dans notre vie “tout court”.

Si je décourage fortement tout weblogueur de choisir l’anonymat pour la première raison évoquée ci-dessus (je pense, par exemple, que le “journal intime sur internet” que personne ne connaît est un leurre à  long terme), je suis nettement moins catégorique si les motivations sont de l’ordre de la seconde raison, et je pense que dans certains cas (celui d’Eolas par exemple), elle est même un choix raisonnable. Néanmoins, il faut garder à  l’esprit que l’anonymat ne dure que tant qu’il dure: que quelqu’un découvre l’identité d’Eolas et la mentionne ailleurs sur le web, et sa “couverture” s’en retrouvera affaiblie.

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Posted in Stuff that doesn't fit | Tagged amis, anonymat, anonyme, avocat, Blogosphere Interest, cache, danger, écrire, écrit, employeur, eolas, famille, identité, internet, journal intime, lire, nom, offline, online, personnel, privé, pseudonymat, pseudonyme, révéler, risque, security, vie, weblog | 21 Comments