tales from urban dilettantia

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Pseudonymous

I’ve been thinking this week about reducing the amount of content I send to Facebook, and this thinking has meandered down two separate paths, being the theoretical and the technological.

The theoretical:
Facebook bothers me for more reasons that I’m going to articulate here (don’t even start me on intellectual property fail and privacy issues, let alone junk economies based on social obligation) but at the moment the central one is that it pushes ‘real names everywhere’ as an internet norm.

Let me tell you something about ‘real names everywhere’: it’s the manifestation of great privilege. Of being so safely mainstream that one can be oneself without fear of a public mauling. Of being so vanilla, so straight, so monogamous, so apolitical, so moderate or so non-marginalised (or non-furious at or oblivious to marginalisation) that being absolutely authentic amongst one’s family, one’s various social circles, on one’s workplace, church or community is a given, not a risk.

On a very slight tangent, there are a couple of excellent posts doing the rounds at the moment on the topic of identity and pseudonymity which are worth a read, in response to the outing of an Australian public servant as the political blogger Grog’s Gamut:
If you can’t defend yourself, you shouldn’t be allowed to speak
Spartacus no more

The technological:
I’ve used Facebook fairly heavily to share content because it does a number of things well and and makes those things very simple. One-click link sharing via a bookmarklet. Photo sharing. Crowdsourcing. I particularly enjoy the way in which all the content I’ve posted is shown in a timeline on my wall, and how I can go back to something I posted a week or two ago and point it out to someone on my phone.

The question, then, has been how one might replicate this ease in a more pseudonymous domain. While Twitter is the obvious hub, its content management is largely non-existent, with users relying on third-party offerings such as TwitPic. (Which is perfectly reasonable – simplicity has long been Twitter’s strength.)

Yesterday, however, I stumbled across my long-unused Posterous account and discovered that the service has seen a large amount of development over the past twelve months. It can now push content to numerous sources, including Twitter, Friendfeed, Tumblr, Flickr and WordPress, and pull content from a similarly impressive array. Like my ‘Share on FB’ bookmarklet, the ‘Share on Posterous’ bookmarklet offers one-click image, link and video sharing, with the Posterous micro-blog serving as a repository and host for the shared content. And, unlike Facebook’s ‘Include image: 1, 2, 3, or 4’, it offers flexibility in the content clipped and displayed.

This may not ultimately be the alternative I’m looking for, but it’s certainly looking interesting enough to be worth a try. The idea that all the content I would otherwise have shared on Facebook (and so reluctantly cloistered within the service’s walled garden) will be associated with my flyingblogspot identity, rather than being cloistered a single site associated with the name Facebook would have you believe to be my only ‘real’ one.

Category: geeking it up, web2.0

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@dilettantiquity is interested in an unreasonable number of things, including the wide and wonderful universe, happiness, well-being, wine, optimal human experience, non-violent communication, complex systems, existential nihilism, rationality, technology, grassroots organising, cacophony, music, creativity, learning and love.