At the behest of a friend, I reviewed a link provided in which it would seem Robert Scoble has (at last?) copped to the reality of the brokenness of the Google name policy.
As expected, this did not occur until it happened to someone he knew; also as expected, the about face seems to give only grudgingly to the reality that a “real name” can be many things, doesn’t fit into the neat boxes that many seem to think exist. Of course, no support for pseudonyms, though he deigns to say that anonymous commentary should be supported (just flagged as such).
Sadly, most of the comments that follow the post provide a frightening look into the narrowness, preferential bias and, frankly, abject ignorance of the typical mainstream audience; comments such as the following are noted with particular horror:
“I don’t use a fake name, and I don’t understand the people that do.”
“It makes sense to require real identity in a social network because the primary purpose of a social network is to connect communities of real people, not alter egos…. The personal safety thing is a straw man argument… I consider internet pseudonymity a long running failed experiment. It has been on balance negative to online community, not positive.” (sic)
“It’s time for a verifiable electronic ‘passport’ that those of us who would like to get a legitimized online presence could use. It could be a combination of things, you could get a personalized bar code or something which would only be delivered if you could prove that you have other items that are verified by other external sources. E.g. my online electronic personality would only be delivered if I used a verified credit card, my cell phone number with a return code, my bank account, a scan of my passport, birth certificate, and other things that are verifiably your own. Make enough of them obligatory and it will get more difficult to fake a personality.
That being said, in some cases I’d like to be anonymous too, but in many cases I’d prefer to get a legitimized verification. it will become more and more prominent in future to get something like this. There are enough places where one can be anonymous.”
“I think the personal safety thing is a straw man argument. There really aren’t any known privacy concerns. Allowing anonymity for a vocal minority would results in a worse community for the majority of users.”
“Anonymous posting leads to spam and hateful comments.”
“If you are to the point where you are scared to post on the internet with your real name, it is either time to change it, or stop posting.”
But beyond all the above, the following, again from Scoble:
“People are NOT the same and do NOT provide the same value to a community. I want to view the best of the best on my screen. I want to go to the equivalent of a TED conference, not the Tenderloin.”
Thus, we get to the crux of the mainstream argument, it seems (at least in Scoble’s case); there is a desire to institute authoritative ranking and vetting of people so that folks like Mr. Scoble won’t have to work too hard on deciding if they care to listen to them (or think too far beyond dutifully following the approval of “the authority”).
Of course, this mindset heavily implies an orientation toward belief in exclusionary management by some collective authority imbued with power to (a) judge and (b) control things (in this case, the ability to express oneself). It also greatly assumes upon the overall ethic and motivation of such authority; a naivete that would be touching were it not so utterly out of place given Scoble’s supposed experience level.
In short and sadly, as usual, Scoble supports the recreation of traditional models of control over speech; in other words, “Hey gang! Let’s recreate the concepts of ‘acceptable speech’ and put a stop to all this freedom of expression!”
The analogies of “wild west” are already active in the linked post’s comments and, I’m sure, will continue to spread as the now-legendary conflict between mainstream elitism and humanistic pluralism continues.
While I admit to feeling a small twinge of gratitude that Scoble has at least called Google out on the brokenness of the policy as it stands, it is greatly overwhelmed by the continued insistence that there is or should be a qualification of superiority or inferiority when it comes to content (rather than relegating this to its rightful arbiter, the individual reader).
Further, I find the persistent idea that a name is a relevant tool by which to make such determinations odious and ignorant to an extreme. Once again, I point to Publius, the literary pen name, the musician’s cover name, as well as nicknames, handles, and stage names to demonstrate the ludicrous nature of this assertion.
Finally, I note the beginnings of a false association between pseudonyms and the “issue” of verification of identity as mentioned in both Scoble’s post and the growing commentary; apparently, the analogy of idealistic dream of “always knowing who said it” receives far greater homage from the mainstream when online than it does in their day to day activity. The hypocrisy of this is a thing that bemuses me; but I must admit, I stopped being surprised by the hypocrisy of humans long ago.
Fortunately for me, I am now an occasional spectator rather than someone affected by the mess that Google has made of this. Judging from this angle, I feel my privacy and choices for online engagement are much less threatened. Should this show signs of changing elsewhere, I’ll be highlighting it and expounding upon it here, you may rest assured. In the meantime, I grit my teeth at people who will remain and complain rather than letting abandonment and silence speak far more loudly; but I realize most folk today do not understand that fighting for change within a system constitutes a fundamental support of said system… I am older and wiser today than to tell people who obviously won’t hear it that getting the hell out of there en mass would do far more to make the point (and make it unavoidable) than continuing to debate and discuss (and give them free content as well as your presence to profit upon in the doing).
Proximity is not permission. Access is not authorization. Identity is declared, not assigned. Even * said, “I am.”
Fair Warning: I’m nice until you’re not… FAFO.
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