Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Being Anonymous Sucks

I want to be a geek, too.

Now that there is a blogging community in New Orleans, I think I have reached the limits of what blogging anonymously can do for me. We can certainly do more together than any of us (especially me) can do on our own. It seems we all have the same goal: community – both in the blogosphere and the biosphere. And, by uniting our different voices and different ways of achieving that same goal, we *can* achieve it.

But, I can’t participate if I am anonymous. However, I can’t express my opinions with my name connected to them. There is certainly no law against it. But the ethical quandary it would cause in my day job is not fair to the company I work for and to the people I work with.

I am growing tired of being anonymous anyway. If the reader does not know who I am, how can he or she trust me? How can I be held accountable for my views? How does the reader know I am qualified to express an opinion on any topic? I live my life trying to build my credibility up, yet as an anonymous blogger, I have no verifiable credibility.

Also, part of what makes blogging a unique phenomenon is the very fact that the blogger shares their personal thoughts and stories. You learn about the blogger and sometimes identify with him or her – adding meaning to the words. The reader often feels like they know the blogger, even though they have never met or talked to the blogger in person. This would explain the value in being “able to put faces to some bloggers,” as Maitri put it.

The lull in the da po’ blog during June was a consequence of my hitting a wall. My last few posts since then have been sub-par, in my opinion. I am asking more questions than providing answers. That’s not the way I want to roll.

So, stay tuned as I work this out. I might have to pop up somewhere else eponymously. That way, I can pop up at the next Geek Dinner.

29 comments:

jeffrey said...

You know I'm not exactly anonymous... and yet have no verifiable credibility anyway. Doesn't really bother me much though.

Editor B said...

You could've worn a mask to the Geek Dinner. It's New Orleans, after all, the city of masks.

Seriously, you could show up at such an event and keep it on a first name basis. Unless you're a high-profile celebrity, I think you could maintain an effectively anonymous online presence and still show up in person for a meet and greet.

da po' boy said...

I guess I just want my blog to have a face. I am certainly not a high-profile celebrity, or low-profile celebrity. But my job brings me to places where they frequent, usually at their request.

I am thinking of starting another, parallel blog that I can connect my name to while doing community-based news, including video and audio. Of course, I would love to brainstorm this idea with the local geek community to make it as good as it can be.

Plus, I don't own any masks.

ashley said...

I'll buy you a mask.

Just show up next time, and we'll all refer to you as "da po boy". You can even bring "da po wife" and others.

Seriously. I still refer to Brian as Schroeder and Peter as Adrastos and Mark as Oyster.

Although, if you're bald and the mayor, ain't no handle gonna work for you.

Ray in New Orleans said...

Lack of anonymity has its drawbacks. There are certain subjects I can't touch on my blog without hurting feelings or careers of loved ones, so I get to sit on my hands a lot. But it would have been good to see you there.

Polimom said...

It's a hard call, po boy. I agonized for weeks over it w/ the Chronicle blog, and ultimately had to give in to write there.

It wasn't just my resistance, either. Everything I've ever said about DH or AC became specific stories about people who didn't ask to be talked about... ya know?

Dunno if you ever saw this particular post, but I wrote once about exactly this -- and credibility in general (link here). I still feel pretty much that way.

Journalists and newspapers seem to take you more seriously if you "come out" -- but I don't know that the blogosphere does.

ashley said...

"Journalists and newspapers seem to take you more seriously if you "come out" -- but I don't know that the blogosphere does." I don't think they do.

The only reason I came out with a blog in my real name is because 1) I had planned on only writing about mundande things like my kids and traveling and maybe the Saints and 2) because I was tenured.

I certainly did not plan to be an 'advocate' of any way, shape, or form. But as we say, "Katrina changed everything".

Now I'm usually glad I use my real name, because I feel that it does lend a bit of credibility when talking to people in "the real world". OTOH, sometimes people have, let us say, "inappropriate" reactions when meeting me, and connect name and face to blog.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with you at all on this subject. (first time!)
There is another way of looking at it.
All these bloggers getting together and 'coming out' only makes their club more exclusive.
And all they care to hear from ...is each other, not the 'outsiders'.
I wish you would stay anonymous. I don't know who you are and it doesn't matter. I'm reading your blog to find out info on NOLA. Not to join a club...their club.

ashley said...

Anonymous, that's garbage. We are united in one single thing: the preservation of NOLA. Other than that, it isn't like I live for page hits.

I want to hear other views...if supported by documentation or at least an opinion founded in logic. Shouting isn't going to turn people's opinions.

An insiders club? Hardly. All our 'meetings' are posted on somebody's website.

If po boy "comes out", then he does so of his own free will. I care about his opinion either way. However, knowing that blogger X works at a specific university may convince me that said blogger is more qualified to discuss university topics. Schroeder is a GIS guy, so knowing that convinces me that he is even more of an authority on mapping issues.

Don't think bloggers only want to hear from each other. Personally, I just want the truth.

Anonymous said...

Ashley,
Thank you.

But if you would, please notice how the bloggers respond to 'their blogger pals' and take note how the average joe is treated.

Thank you for your time.

dangerblond said...

When I started blogging, the rest of the New Orleans bloggers and blog readers were very supportive of me. It's a very nice bunch of people. Most try to answer their comments. All are thrilled when they get comments.

Many of us post about what the others say because that's a way of "promoting" each other's blogs through links and such. That's part of what you do.

Poboy, I decided to identify myself because there was too much I couldn't write about if I was trying to maintain anonymity. There is a part of me that wants people to be able to consider the source when they read my opinions, too.

Anonymous said...

hmm..I hate to say this lady, but the women are worse then the men.
It's true. I find (i'm not trying to start a fight) that the women bloggers want to impress the other bloggers (men) so badly, that they overlook the regular readers. I really don't believe they even know they are doing this!! Even that sweet Mermaid! She does it too.
But I have to agree with Anonymous #1 -- sit back and look with a keen eye, it just might make you see things differently.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Anon, I live in Georgia and I read and link to NOLA bloggers all the time. I know exactly none of the NOLA bloggers personally. I have not experienced any of the things you are talking about that don't go on in blogs around the rest of the country, big and small.

Bloggers don't respond to every single comment that is made on their sites (neither do readers), and they don't have to. If you think you're being slighted by the blogger, don't visit their site. Simple as that.

adrastos said...

Jeez, how did I miss this. Po Boy, I'm not exactly anonymous but not totally out there either. But there ARE some things I don't touch: my wife's employer for one thing and my own city councilmember who I have to deal with since I'm also a neighborhood leader. But it's a balance I don't mind.

And anonymous, I know a troll when I see one. You're probably a vampire...

Anonymous said...

Oh Adrastos, so very typical of you. hmm.. no, I'm no vampire, you just don't like to read the truth.

oh, and why don't you go back to doing what you do best...ya know..The DBlond, how does Dr A. stand it?

One more thing,
Never trust a man with a womans ass. (DB)

And you blog-people wonder why the only ones who are left reading and responding to your posts are the same ones......hmmm

muse said...

On the topic of anonymity vs being "out there", I chose to be anonymous because I don't want to compromise my job or embarrass friends. _But_, when I establish email/regular mail relationships with fellow bloggers, I switch to my real name, trusting that they won't use this info to get me fired or something. So I have reached a compromise with myself: being open, yet safe.

Maybe in your case having a parallel, personal blog would be a good idea. :)

da po' boy said...

Thanks for the input.

muse said...

Actually, a real life friend (who reads my blog) just sent me this link, sort of on this topic, so I thought I'd pass it along:

http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/europe/07/19/france.blog/index.html?section=cnn_topstories

TravelingMermaid said...

OK, Adrastos, being new at this I don't know what a "troll" or "vampire" is...pls explain.
It's in my nature to listen and try to keep an open mind to commenters. I think when anon says we (women bloggers) want acceptance from them (men bloggers) there is a grain of truth in that. Speaking for myself, after examining that thought, I see that I am guilty of it. I have opened my blog to comments from past and present readers -- I think this is an issue worth pursuing. See the comment section in my post "A bloggers question".If we get no comments from others with anon's point of view, then we will have our answer. Maybe. The last thing I want to do is ignore any regular readers I may have -- even if I don't agree with them.

adrastos said...

A troll is someone who comments to provoke a response: an online agent provocateur.

The vampire thing was just a joke.

Lisa said...

Making authoratative generalizations about groups of people and their intentions and motivations seems to me to be a thing that
will only invite scorn. Throwing the "you people" phrase around is from a lesson in chapter one of "How to Inflame Friends and Alienate Prople." Gotta admit, it all does look a little trollish. Still, everyone here gave fair consideration to the "anonymous" assertions directed at "us."

You have fee will. Stay anonymous, read, comment, (or don't) if you want to. Everyone here was an "outsider" at some point. All it takes to change that is to take on some identity and continiue to contribute to the discussion Repetition = familiarity. There's no bouncer at the door.

Mark said...

DPB, I strugged with having my name on my blog for a long time, but realized I had already crossed that river by publishing some longer op-eds and letters in the local newspaper (and getting on the Fargo 41 Do Not Admit list for Bush visits in North Dakota).

Since I came out in the Picayune it seemed silly to still have Markus on the blog instead of my name. Perhaps someday I will regret it, when a saavy employer googles me up and decides they don't like me. However, it will likely be for suggeting one of the The Ten Commandment movie-tied monuments be removed from a public square and replaced with the Bill of Rights, and not for what I've written on Wet Bank Guide.

Scroll down to the bottom of my blog (Schroder has) and find the quote that used to grace my email, which I found on a mural in the Mission District in SF. Words to live by...

Schroeder said...

Oh, let me guess: Garland Robinette? Norman Robinson? If you're Norman Robinson, you can't be a geek. Oh wait, you're Mitch Landrieu?!! If so, please tell us how you lost the mayor's race with twice as much money as your racist opponent who totally foobarred the city.

But really, I keep things anonymous because I have over the years worked in the public sector quite a bit, which puts me occasionally into contact with prominent people, and places me in situations where I'm privy to conversations that aren't intended to go on the public record. Being anonymous allows me to let some of those things trickle out when I choose -- not that I do it often. There is an ethical line I don't think should be crossed in some circumstances.

If anyone really wanted to find out who I am, they probably could (especially lately). But if I wanted to, I could have kept my name out of the blogosphere -- other bloggers respect that choice.

Joseph said...

Let your track record and words speak for you. Anonymity means nothing when your readers have many hundreds of posts from you, showing exactly how you feel and what you think. We may not know your name, but we know who you are. This was sometime thought a paradox.

adrastos said...

Schroeder's point is a good one. I know who he is and what he does and I'd only mention that if he wanted me to do so.

Since I'm semi-anonymous and less so all the time, I have a rule with my friends who are in the know: I only put things out there if they want them out. It leads to frustration at times but friendships are more important to me than the best post.

Sophmom said...

I have no choice but to be anonymous. Many folks I know in real life also read my blog, and recently, thanks to the Geek Dinner, some of the folks whose blogs I read, I've met.

It's hard for me to imagine a more welcoming crowd, and I don't feel like my anonymity has been compromised by the fact that this handful of fine people know who I am.

For me, anonymity means that no one who searches for my real name will find my blog.

Da po boy, I wish you could have been there. It was a blast.

Mr. Clio said...

Well, as a high-profile celebrity (I'll give you hint: I was recently drafted #2 by the New Orleans Saints, and I'm refurbishing Tad Gormley), I think you should feel safe hanging out with the bloggers.

I missed the dinner too, but I have high hopes to be at the next one.

adrastos said...

Yo, Reggie, can you co-sign a loan for me?

Maitri said...

Anonymity has nothing to do with credibility. Your opinions and consistency of logic do. I link to you because I like what you have to say (where have you been?) and not because I'm going to meet you some day.

Glad to see you're back. :-)