Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Yakkety-Yak. Tracked Talk Back

Here's a thing.

I went to Potlatch, a Typepad blog,  and was mildly interested in this article and wanted to comment. I've commented there before, but only occasionally. I never had any trouble in doing so under my 'internet name' of Charlie McMenamin before. But I did tonight.

I have an 'internet name' as I am self employed and do work for local authorities, not-for-profits and charities. I  have a personal website which advertises my wares under my real name. I also have a Facebook page, a Google+ presence and a Twitter account in my real name.

 I don't want folk Googling me and finding all my disgraceful political  opinions popping up. I can separate my work life and out of work life, but I don't want to leave a trail on the net behind me . Hence the nom-de-plume.  I know, of course, that anyone with a scintilla of IT savvy could break this light disguise in a matter of moments. But the folk I work for aren't like that: they just don't want anyone with baggage. I try to keep my baggage separate.

Tonight I tried to comment on Potlatch and found that this was the new understrap of the blog

So I pressed 'more' and got this:

I used the drop down box which gave me the opportunity to sign in using Twitter or Google and lots of other options as well as Facebook - or to registered with Typepad using the same spread of options - but all of them reverted to my real identity, presumably picking up on my registrations under other platforms. I suspect there must be a way to make some comment on Potlatch's blog as Charlie McMenamin but, blimey, its not obvious and its very, very hard to find.

Now, I suspect Potlatch can live with the pain of not reading my response to his post. To be frank, I've already forgotten what I was going to say anyway*.   But this has been a mildly sobering moment for me - all that stuff about the disappearance of privacy suddenly came home to roost.

Small stuff, perhaps. But then my impact on the internet world has been precisely small stuff. I just want the space to do it privately.

* But, hey, Will, for the record,  I'm a big admirer of your style of writing and width of reading. But a sentence like,"A perceived virtue of neo-classical economics, as a tool for public decision-making, is its simplicity." really won't do, at least not without expansion. Neo-classical economics' 'simplicity' is shrouded in Maths which most of us find very, very complicated. Perhaps it is there to disguise the underlying simplicity?


  1. I agree, of course! A lot of this stuff about signing in which is ostensibly for our convenience is actually for their convenience.
    It's terribly dangerous being a non-tech savvy innocent abroad on the internet. Ultimately we have been reliant on the basic underlying values of the geeks who created this wonder, best summed up by Google's former motto of "don't be evil". Now, to actually realise the stratospheric valuations of the flotation price, being evil is precisely what they need to be, and will be made to be by the moneymen.
    I think it's fascinating to watch how Wikipedia, by staying not for profit, has retained all its values, whilst Google and Facebook have shed theirs.

  2. But, but, but....Jimmy Wales is a libertarian

    So whilst I sort of admire Wikipedia, I have my doubts.

  3. He is?? [checks link] OMG, so he is...

    Except, I dunno. He calls the Libertarian Party of America "lunatics", so he's called that one right. And he read some Ayn Rand as a student. Well, y'know, he came from Huntsville, Alabama, so he's probably had a long journey to make.

    Looking at what he does, not what he says, to me he seems to have proved that a really pure anarchism, communism, liberal American academic decency, call it what you want - and he calls it "wiki" open source collaborative editing - actually works in a practical application.

    I have to part company with you on Wikipedia.

    To me it seems to be the greatest achievement of the internet. In fact, I feel inclined to argue, what actually surpasses it as an achievement in the whole of human history, the greatest repository of human knowledge of all time - with such amazing speed of access? It knocks the Great Library of Alexandria into a cocked hat. Your Bodleian too. It's a pinnacle of American achievement to match the moon landing for sure.

    Sort of admire? Have doubts? Come on. You sound like somebody on the BBC peeved that they've been beaten as an authoritative source. It's not there for checking celebs' love affair histories, or for political assessments of the Blair legacy. It's an encyclopedia, and a bloody good one.

    If you think it can be improved, you can stuck in there and improve it. That's it's genius.

    God bless Wales, God bless America. God bless us every one!

  4. Well....
    That "But, but, but..." was me sort of spluttering because my head hurts thinking about this stuff.

    Wiki is good, I grant you (even if I tend to think its entries are most impressive on stuff I know least about). But I think your basic point isn't about its' content so much as the method by which it comes into being.

    Now, I'm a fan of Open Source insofar as any non IT savvy person can be - which basically means using Firefox and Thunderbird rather than IE/Safari & Outlook, but drawing the line when I find my teenagers using Pirate Bay or Bit Torrent to download music or films for nowt.

    Deep in my heart I know this is a 'know nothing', pragmatic stance because I can't think my way through the implications of a world where intellectual and artistic knowledge content doesn't have any price at all, but is free like air. (& not just knowledge: looks what's coming over the hill in manufacturing: I recently saw a Open Source design car produced for a really affordable price - and it is happening in your next door neighbour's lock up garage.).

    My head hurts when I think about this stuff because I find it difficult to fit these developments into the conceptual categories I carry round with me.(*waves hands, points to 'About Me' strapline at top right of blog*). You're younger, perhaps it is easier for you.

    P.S. time for you to start tweeting. I am one of your 32 followers even though you've never sent a single tweet. I'm the guy from Tulse Hill (I tweet under my real name).

  5. Thanks for that, Charlie. A few thoughts:
    >>>I can't think my way through the implications of a world where intellectual and artistic knowledge content doesn't have any price at all, but is free like air.
    I don't have too much of a problem conceptually with that, but clearly we need a new funding model for the intellectuals and the artists. Paul Mason has something about this in his new book (I think, I haven't read it yet) and it was an flash of insight something along the lines of "isn't this the future that Marx dreamed of?" It would be nice to think of a not-too-distant future of people on a citizen's wage to keep them alive, producing and consuming stuff for free.

    >>> not just knowledge: looks what's coming over the hill in manufacturing: I recently saw a Open Source design car produced for a really affordable price

    ...and you'll be able to fee in a roll of sheet steel and print it out on one of the new 3D printers!

    >>> Wiki[pedia] is good, I grant you (even if I tend to think its entries are most impressive on stuff I know least about)

    Not a dream (distant or proximate), but a practical reality today - I might even say this is something you owe the internet community - take those subjects which you really do know the most about and edit and improve the pre-existing article until you're happier with it. Fundamental changes, like writing an entirely new entry, you can start a discussion on on the discussion page.

    PS - Twitter! Are you following @Strategist on Twitter? I'm not him/her - the name had been taken when I arrived on the scene, late. And I've definitely got zero followers, I just checked.

  6. Are you following @Strategist on Twitter? I'm not him/her

    I have ceased my stalking of some poor unknown individual. ....

  7. I have no personal facebook or twitter account, and everything I do have on these social networking sites is in the name of my company. I couldn't imagine it any other way.

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  9. I do mostly everything under my own name on the interwebs, but still don't want to sign in with facebook or wordpad or any other centralised commercial entity because, well, what business is it of theirs? Commenting on the whole has become much harder over the past couple of years I've felt, with so many blogs wanting you to either use Facebook et all or want you to create an account or just silently disappear your comments into some moderation queue never to reappear.

    Wikipedia is good as long as you use it for easily verifiable fact finding, not so much once you get into more controversial subjects. Like all libertarians, Wales has somewhat of an autocratic touch as well, sometimes going against his own policies to interfere directly, frex, google Giovanni di Santo.

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