Monday, 13 June 2011

epershand: blocky green ampersand (70s ampersand)
I'm sort of fascinated by this "people who can vouch for me in real life" meme, not the least because it seems to be coming from basically the opposite of the lesson I got from following Liz Henry's Amina posts. What I hadn't thought about before, that both Liz's posts and [personal profile] synecdochic's very timely post on geotagging and anonymity brought into very sharp focus for me in the last week, is how little anonymity most of us have.

I try my best not to be PARTICULARLY searchable under this identity, but that really just means that it would take someone who was determined maybe 10 minutes to determine my first name, last name, intersection where I live, and profession, rather than a single hit to a search engine. And certainly this identity has never been truly anonymous or pseudonymous in any way, shape, or form--given that this identity started as a way to communicate with my college friends, and has followed me to several conventions, it's pretty much an open book at this point. There are people I know on LJ/DW who I've known only over the internet, but they are definitely not the majority.

And even if that weren't the case--I talk about my neighborhood. [personal profile] synecdochic's got me thinking about the fact that a determined person could pinpoint my street address and which apartment in the building I live in from my complaints about noise alone. Despite all my silly obfuscations, it would be pretty much simple to put together any number of facts I attempt to hide. And it's the same for just about all of us. [personal profile] rivkat may not care about bodies, only the intellects behind them, as her post on the subject states, but when I was considering applying to law school, getting her professional email was a two-step hop from facts I know about her from reading her LJ. (I never emailed her--"Hi, you don't know me, but I've been following you on LJ/DW for the last five years. Career advice pls?" felt too daunting to say at the time--but that is unrelated to the post.)

And even if I *didn't* have a ton of information traceable back to this body in this location available in this journal and had not personally glomped the majority of my circle, I still wouldn't be isolated. The context of this post is NOT an isolated blog, but a community, and even people who maintain stand-alone blogs are also almost certainly going to be existing in the network of people they interact with via those blogs. If my location couldn't be tracked down, at least one of the people on my flist would probably know enough about me to do so. That's what was striking enough about both Amina and Paula that Liz went hunting for them--it's incredibly unusual that one person would be so isolated as to have never had contact with any of her friends except via the internet, let alone two. (I am still cracking up about the fact that the turn out to be separate sock puppeteers, hoaxing one another. It must have been so *handy* for each of them that their online girlfriend never pushed for phone calls or in-person meetings....)

The meme is just formalizing the information that is already pretty much out there about all of us. Although I have to say, these posts are going to be a handy thing to look for if, [superstitious avoidance phrase or activity here], any one of us goes missing or is in danger.

But if we *are* playing this game, I'm going to skip over the most obvious suspects and go directly to the source of all identity-verifying: [personal profile] badgerbag can vouch that I am a real person.

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