Thursday, 26 November 2009
Pseudonymity AKA privacy.
When people all start agreeing with each other too much I get a bit nervous..... and that’s why I try to disagree with everyone, where at all possible...
I have been a keen follower of Botgirl’s blog since I first saw her work in September last year at New Caerleon. Her work on multiple identities and the psychology of virtual existence has been inspirational and helped me formulate my own thoughts on the subject.
Recently Botgirl has announced her RL name and status and caused a fair few post centered around the anonymity question. That is fair enough, that’s her privilege. To me it was a bit like Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings turning to camera and saying..”My real name is actually Ian.” It did nothing for me.
I am very bored of blogs where articles about SL people add their AKA’s. Like.... “Baggins Frogspawn, AKA Maria Rabinowitz, is now...bla bla bla....” (both names are fictional before you run to Search, tho Maria will probably sue...).
There are two main reasons for this... firstly I have enough trouble remembering one set of names (my bio-RAM is overloaded and no implant/upgrade available..) let alone two. I have friends on Facebook (which is really boring the pants off me at the moment...lol...Mafia Wars and Stupid Farms are not what I want to spent my time doing or how I want my personal info spread in hyperspace...) yes...friends on Facebook who I don’t know...too many names, too much info...
Secondly... the suspension of disbelief is fully respected in film, theatre, puppet shows (big in some cultures) and fiction, why is it not as accepted in SL?
The loss of belief in Santa is a passing of innocence which doesn’t happen instantly, there are years where children accept that Santa/daddy is a dual identity like when I go the the theatre and accept Hamlet/actor as an entity. I’m a grown up, I can accept that the person standing in front of me may not be 7 foot tall in RL, may not have two heads, Duh!! but they have in SL and I enjoy it.
Now, having ‘come out’, as indeed Dusan Writer has, Botgirl has had a rather positive spin on her new dual status reminding me of a convert’s enthusiasm.... and when people all start agreeing....
Her most recent post however conceding that “ Public pseudonymity IS compatible with the quest to live with integrity” altho she implies that full disclosure is necessary for a meaningful friendship.
Integrity is the best reason I know for NOT messing up SL with the trivia of RL. “ Integrity as a concept has to do with perceived consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcome.” (wickidpedia)
...and I seem to remember that a common comment in Dusan’s discussion of the subject centered around the idea that ‘transparency’ (giving your real name) would be great for VW as more honesty would prevail.
Well, I think that both of these points are rubbish.
Revealing my identity, which I now see as a mistake, to a couple of friends has done absolutely nothing to improve my relationships with these people, they would have been just as good had I not done so, and one, I feel, has suffered because of it. As for honesty ...duh! ...Bernard Madoff......that was his real name.
Like the example I gave above with Gandalf it disturbs the flow of the action and it takes 6 months or so before things return to normal and the RL “facts” fade into the muddied waters of my memory banks. I lose interest, luckily....
Far worse than these individual foibles is that ‘realism’ is a geek ideal that has seeped into the very culture of VW’s.
..........in the beginning a load of geeks got together to try and make a 3D avatar that looked as human as possible, they refined and refined. Their measure of success was... how life-like, how ‘real’ could they make this world. This aim has now infested the Boys philosophy. Their aim is now to make SL a copy of the Real World and have Real Meetings in Real Boardrooms..... and probably Real Names......but I digress (as usual) and my view that NPIRL is not an option but the ONLY option for VWs will have to be the subject of another post.
For several hundred years it was accepted that society had a dual nature, every person/household had a public face and a private realm. The division of labour was such that the wife was queen of the private realm (which included finance) and the man would go into the public realm and talk philosophy, war and other BS in gentlemen’s clubs and stuff. It worked, not perfectly, nothing ever does.
SL is a public realm, every word you say, every thing you do, etc. is recorded, and I think that my pseudonymity is a healthy privacy.
As a full and fairly rounded individual I have to agree with Bryn who said... “I do not want to become just another AKA.”
soror Nishi AKA soror Nishi