Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Google+, pseudonymity, and me

People for, whatever perverse reason, follow my comments know that I don't generally publish under my real name. The reason's fairly simple: back when I was working for a company called Snap-on Business Solutions, the company had a policy that specifically discouraged blogging, and made it clear that it didn't want anything anyone wrote on a blog tracked back to it.

And at the same time, I wanted the freedom to be able to say "My boss was a total asshole today" without anyone going "Oh, he's talking about " and drawing a long term conclusion over what was actually just a vent. Which, ironically, I don't think I did, but it's still a freedom I want.

Of course, I was made redundant last year. Redundancy doesn't mean a complete severance of connections with the old employer, it's not like being fired. SBS made me sign a few forms, and they paid me a fairly decent redundancy payment, in return for keeping to the agreement. I can probably get away with publishing my name without putting any noses out of joint, given it's been just over a year now, but... but I'm reluctant to.

To begin with, I'm working again, and the new employer - while not discouraging blogging - is an actual publisher, and I happen to strongly disagree with a large proportion of what they publish. Really disagree. And then there's the fact that the "I want to say my boss is an asshole" thing is still something I want.

The downside of posting under a pseudonym is that you don't get taken as seriously as you do when posting under your real name - I'm not entirely sure I agree, an argument is an argument, it's either right or wrong, and there's a difference between posting entirely anonymously (where you can't tell what the person has posted before) and sticking with a consistent pseudonym. There's also a certain amount of risk - you're generally inclined to post more openly under the pseudonym, but it certainly wouldn't be hard for someone to connect my posts to me.

I finally did get a Google+ invite, so I'm on it, but not as squiggleslash. Google+ bans pseudonymity, so I have to be "myself". But, well, of course I'm not going to be "myself". Myself is someone I can't expose on the Internet, not under my name, not completely anyway, any more than anyone can be themselves at their office.

Still, I like Google+. The circles thing is one of the easiest privacy things I've seen, I think they've done a good job, and I'll be making a concerted effort to make it work for me.

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