Anonymity? Today?

Msg # 13 of 23 on JustaXnet Get it off your chest!
Time: Tuesday, 2-08-11, 3:52
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When I started my BBS in 1991, Operation Sundevil [1] was fresh in our
minds, home computers were a rarity and the internet didn't exist as the
repository of information that it is now.
We felt strongly that information should be free, that people had a right
to learn, understand, and know, and that actions should be regulated, not
information. My BBS belonged to a network that shared this philosophy.
Anonymity was an important part of my network. We made a point of removing
new user questionnaires and callback verifiers, allowing full access on the
first call, and minimizing activity logs. We wanted to separate BBS and
network activity from the RealWorld for legal and ideological reasons.[2]
Anonymity didn't create management issues. We allowed the networks and the
users to manage themselves.[3]
Our network gained a reputation as a clearing-house for information, even
attracting some sensationalist "evil hacker" writeups in the local
media[4] and the National Enquirer[5]. While the attention was startling at
first, it turned into a rallying point and a learning experience for all.
Fast forward to 2011; we have a pervasive internet, search engines that
aggregate personal and reference information at our fingertips. Online
presences have shifted - before, people who mostly didn't know each other
in the RealWorld got together in cyberspace to discuss common topic. Now
people communicate mostly with people that have some RealWorld connection -
think Facebook's friends list and FOAF social networks.
There's no real anonymity when you're friended. Maybe there's no point in
handles any more?
Having both real names and handles may be overkill. Maybe I should change
the new user process to ask for "A Real Name" and leave it at that.
I've been Poindexter FORTRAN over 20 years. People in the RealWorld know me
as Poindexter. I've had people yell "hey, Poindexter" across the street at
me - much to the confusion of people I was with who weren't part of the
As connected as I am to poindexter FORTRAN, I may set my account to post
using my real name only, change my new user questionnaire to ask
for "a real name" and see how I feel after a month.
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13. Anonymity? Today? , posted by KURT WEISKE

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