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  We present ourselves differently in different contexts,
  and that's key to our creativity and self-expression.
  "It's not 'who you share with,' it's 'who you share as,'"
  Poole told us. "Identity is prismatic."
moot just kinda blew my mind. And it makes total sense. I'd go so far as to say it's almost painfully obvious once it's pointed out to you. I hope someone's got it on video and posts it somewhere.

As individuals, we don't act the same way around our peers, our friends or our family. While we certainly present ourselves differently in different contexts, I wouldn't call these different "identities", rather the same identity applying the rules of the given context to their behavior.

Where it becomes tricky is when one is strips away the context isolation. For example, at your friend's bachelor party, some behavior might perfectly normative within context and participants, but the next day when people outside of that context can watch a video of your behavior - you might feel a little shame/embarrassment/regret/etc.

The internet, for better or worse, allows a complete breakdown of context isolation. While the rules of posting on 4chan or HN greatly differ, a person adhering to rules of a given context, will still be judged across both contexts by outside viewers.

The solution here is to create context isolation - which is very easy to do with anonymity.

>The solution here is to create context isolation - which is very easy to do with anonymity.

Not the best solution. I in fact has been saying the illusion that people are perfect is fundamentally flawed for a while now.

You're completely missing the point. Nobody is saying or implying that people are perfect. Rather, it's the opposite - we acknowledge that people are imperfect - and that's exactly why we need anonymity and different identities.

moot also made another very good point about total anonymity once before: the reason 4chan (and by extension, other image boards) became such a success is because there is no personal cost of failure, which allowed almost boundless creativity - which is why most of the internet knows 4chan mainly as a meme-generator.

And my point is that it is not the best solution to the problem.

Is there some difference between this and what Danah Boyd et al. were saying 8 years ago regarding "Faceted Identity"?


Rhetoricians have actually been talking about this for more than four thousand years. Everything's performance.

Only reading the 118 page thesis' abstract? Probably not. Kudos to her for writing it, and you linking it; I've saved it for the weekend.

But my point wasn't that "it's an original thought that he's had and no one has ever considered it before!" just "I was ignorant of this exact problem until it was pointed out to me. Then it became evident."

But, maybe I'm just reading that as a little more antagonistic than intended.

No worries. I've actually probably only looked at the pictures. SecureId has some good ones.


Danah boyd doesn't capitalize danah boyd's name.

A person can choose to brand his or her name with lowercase letters but it's perfectly reasonable to use the convention. http://www.technologyreview.com/TR35/Profile.aspx?TRID=948

Spot on, can't remember who summed it up slightly differently, but it was like this: in the non-internet world you can only share as yourself... BUT in the non-internet world what you share isn't permanently logged, so when you share something with close friends or even anonymous folks at a bar, you're always expressing ideas that will not be tagged permanently t your name. Once in the internet space this changes, and if you can only post under your name, you will self-censor anything controversial since you'll never be able to shake the associated with it otherwise.

ShawnJG posted this, I liked it. It's dead for some reason...

ShawnJG 1 minute ago | link [dead]

I agree completely. It does seem really obvious now. But anyone who's had a pre-Google/Facebook online life remembers that you had different handles for diff sites. My aol name was not the same as my underground name, wasn't the same as my regular email name. At first what seemed like a good idea, "mirroring" yourself online as Poole puts it became the bane of people who were diverse in their online dealings. But I look at Google and Facebook as the "establishment internet", there for the masses. And for most people that is fine, they rarely stray from these walled off gardens. But there are still options to be as diverse or "prisimatic" as you please if you look for them. -----

I have always to have three areas of identity online. I've had my professional persona, which I try to associate with my work and professional interests. I have a different identity that I present to my friends, which is a lot goofier, complains about work and plays a lot of video games. Then I have my third layer of handles which I use to identify with others in games or specific mediums such as discussion boards. I don't want potential employers looking at my Reddit post history, or my gaming clan looking up details about my personal life, or Reddit trolls looking up pictures of my wife.

I like that Google+ made some efforts to let you keep those lives separate through Circles, which prompted Facebook to make their lists more prominent, but I still prefer to have multiple identities.

I acknowledge that with a little work you could probably connect all my identities together, but I'd rather not make it obvious to the casual observer. Let's keep honest people honest.

Why? I am not for real name policies, but would still like the problems be fixed if possible.

Er, they obviously didn't want his name associated with the post, though I agree it's a good one. Maybe replace it with "An HN user posted this, ..."? Just as a kindness to them?

No, it seems like he's been hellbanned. All his comments since 4 days ago are dead.

hah, and to think, I just sent an email to pnathan asking about editing his comment out of politeness to the other party. Weird.

Apologies pnathan!

No problem!

Hm. I have three responses to this:

1. It seems similar or at least parallel to something I wrote about needing new metaphors for social networking: http://blog.byjoemoon.com/post/7072771434/a-new-metaphor-for...

2. We need our social networking software to give us better representations of social context, and good representations of that context through UI.

3. Maybe it's the case that the different services will evolve into different contexts, with a different service for every context? I.e. Twitter for shouting pithy aphorisms into the public void, G+ for conversing about nerdy stuff, HN for conversing about even nerdier stuff, LinkedIn for marketers to market to each other about marketing jobs, and FB for farming?

Absolutely spot on. I struggled with the notion of putting myself out there on the internet as since the days of BBS's I've always interacted with other "internet folk" through an alias and very much under a different persona. Even running successful websites I ran them under a female alias not just because I could, but because it was a great marketing trick.

But today, the web has become so ubiquitous with the real world that I know I now have to play the game. It has taken me a long time to realize this, and I still don't feel comfortable with it.

> We present ourselves differently in different contexts, and that's key to our creativity and self-expression.

Isn't this pretty much exactly what Google+ tries to reflect with circles? It almost sounds to me like the marketing speak they had going when the product first came out.

Yes, I agree. But it's really not the same. Think about steve yegge and his posting on google+. We cannot rely on anonymity across a board when user error is such a likely possibility. While it's easy and intuitive to correctly post when sober and clear minded, certain things may slip your mind. Steve yegge also intended for only a select group of users to read it. Let's pretend that he had full anonymity. There wouldn't have been any hesitation in posting. No immediate deletion. And no backlash or grief from his readers.

However, it's likely that his post wouldn't have had the same effect if it had been fully anonymous. Being _by him_ carried with it a lot of other things. Reputation matters.

Could that reputation been carried throughout an anonymous identity? The only benefit from having an actual name is verification of identity. But when you talk in a certain manner, identities can become fluid and obvious of spoofs -- eliminating that need for verification.

How is that not isomorphic to Circles?

It's not. You seem to have misread the article. moot's saying that it's important "who you share as" not "who you share with". G+ doesn't allow you to have multiple identities, it allows you to share in different contexts with the same identity - which is fundamentally different.

Besides, it's a very bad idea to leave identity management in the hands of a third party anyways, and the last third party I'd trust with my identities are Google and Facebook. Call me paranoid all you want, but identities are something you manage yourself - nobody should be trusted doing it for you.

I didn't misread anything. What I'm saying is that sharing "as" a different aspect of myself is functionally equivalent to sharing with a different Circle, from a privacy perspective.

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