Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pictures of Anonymity

I remember years ago hearing my father say, "An unsigned letter isn't worth the paper it's written on."

Having recently been bitten by anonymous commentators in the blog world, I've spent a good bit of time contemplating the difficult balance between privacy and anonymity online. I've discovered a paper published online that thouroughly discusses this topic: Anonymity and Pseudonymity in Cyberspace: Deindividuation, Incivility and Lawlessness Versus Freedom and Privacy. This paper and personal experience have led me to conclude that there are four basic types of people who comment anonymously on blogs. The Justifiably Fearful, the Insecure Participant, the Naughty Nitpicker, and the Nefarious Schemer. Over the coming days, I'll seek to unpack these various types.

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