Handles: just live with 'em

Fri, 6 May 1994 00:38:20 -0400

>I find it curious that seeker1/steve mizrach feels that people should not
>be judged by their reputation or the credibility of things that they have
>written in the past.

That is not what I said. I didn't say anyone should not look at what people
have said before... (what I said was, it should be *permissible* for people
to come to the list without *publicly providing* that information for
*everyone*.) It is clearly the case that most people participate in
E-conversations *without* such contextual cues. (Some people seem to want
them, otherwise Danny Yee would not be asking for bios...) and that, in
some cases, it provides for a levelling effect to eliminate that context.
I think people should be able to make a statement about something
which they do *not* specialize in without facing the intimidating reply,
"But what do you know about it? It's not your specialty!" I also think that
people who want to transcend the student/faculty barrier by identifying
themselves as neither have that right. And for women who find men do not
take their work seriously to identify themselves without gender markers if
they so choose, and people who are not anthropologists to participate in
the list as full equals by not having to identify what their association
with the profession is.
Titles impress, but they also intimidate the curious.
Hence, I support 'anonymity,' and by that I mean the use of handles
SHOULD BE PERMITTED, even though I will not advocate their *use*.
How many times have you *actually* gone and looked for what one of the
people here has written before, prior to responding to their posts?
Probably very few. You respond to content and not context - but it's OK,
you have the right to *ask* for context if you want it. Now the question
for me is: will ANTHRO-L now not only demand real names instead of handles,
but that each and every participant provide their CV in addition to their
bio? I should hope not!

>Such information is relevant for evaluating the
>veracity of new information provided by the source.

That is simply pure crap. This is the reason why people who publish good
articles at the beginning of the career are permitted to float garbage by
later on in their lives... the veracity of new information can be
determined by evaluating the information. What people have said before is a
sufficient, but not necessary, criterion for evaluating what they are
saying now.
I know of a physicist who writes articles about antigravity under
the name "Sigma Rho." He does this because he is a well-known researcher,
and does not want his colleagues to know who he is since they axiomatically
assume anyone researching antigravity is a "crank." He wants people to look
at his antigrav research for themselves, without prejudging it favorably or
unfavorably based on his reputation, and then write him if they want to
know more.

>I have no objections
>to holding people accountable for the "baggage" that they have packed for
>themselves in previous e-postings, publications, speeches etc.

Obviously, if they have a stable online identity, they will be held to
their previous cybercontributions. The question is, are you going to force
them to hold the same online identity as their 'real' one? Again, I have no
objections to *permitting* anyone to use a handle for public communication,
as long as they are willing to provide their real names if asked in
Only on academic lists do people seem to care about what the real
names of the participants are. ANTHRO-L can simply be a recreation of the
space of the professional meeting (AAA, etc.), or it can be a different
type of space where people can expound on whatever they consider
anthropological without fear of this being tied to something they have
written in the 'real world.'
Look at it in another way. Anonymity may not be desirable on an
academic list such as this. But it is totally unstoppable. YOU CANNOT
PREVENT ANONYMOUS POSTING except on a moderated list... and even then there
are ways to get around it, believe me, I know them all. Regardless of your
feelings on the matter, you cannot stop other "Seeker1's" from coming to
the list, posting their feelings on topics anthropological, and, unlike me,
*never* disclosing their real identities. This may bother you and you may
choose not to talk to such people; I will. (I gladly talked to Lt.
Commander Data, disagreed with him on several issues, and to this very day
I don't have the faintest idea who he was. So what? Who cares? If he was an
android, that's just fine by me.) I'm telling people to live with it.
That's my opinion: live with it. If and when virtual reality comes to
the net, I assure you the capacity for self-re-invention in cyberspace will
only increase.

Seeker1 [@Nervm.Nerdc.Ufl.Edu] (real info available on request)
CyberAnthropologist, TechnoCulturalist, Guerilla Ontologist, Chaotician
Matrix Master Control Node #3, Gainesville, Fl.
"I slept with Faith & found a corpse in my arms upon awakening/ I drank and
danced all night with Doubt and found her a virgin in the morning." --