Wednesday, July 21, 2004

toward an equilbrium process theory of pseudonymous blogging

[Inspired by a exchange elsewhere today about provocative and perhaps-poison-pen posting from behind the possibly-porous-protection of a pseudonym.]

Brief elaborations/caveats/comments for the eight arrows:

A: Along with security/safety concerns and perhaps the desire for an "alternative self," presumably this is a primary motivation for the anonymous (pseudonymous) weblog.

B: Not necessarily, of course, most notably in the example of long rambling uncomfortably psychpathologically revealing posts.

C: Insert demand-side theory of blog-reading here. The uninhibited "private" password-protected or otherwise hidden-from-public-view blog attacks the equilibrium process at precisely this point.

D: In terms of increased curiosity from an increased number of people about the identity of the author. Perhaps stronger if the author is a member of a relatively circumscribed community of which readers-who-enjoy-juicy-or-gossipy-parts are also members. Also, of course, juicier posts (as well as their less juicy counterparts) would provide more of a trail for any blogbloodhounds who were interested in trying to identify someone.*

E: Here is an obvious place where the equilibrium process could be broken, by the person becoming less anonymous and yet remaining uninhibited, such that they decide they no longer care if people know it's them writing what they do.

F: The other obviously place where the equilibrium process can be broken, as it doesn't necessarily mean worse posts, but it does seem to imply a posting style for which there is less gain from anonymity.

G: Given the Darwinian dynamics of blogreading attention.

H: Only under special circumstances of mortality or forgetting does the number of people who know any secret decrease, so this shouldn't be taken completely literally. But, of course, one could imagine decreasing interest in expending the effort of finding a secret out, for example, so beans can thus become more or less close to spillage. Also, one regains quasi-anonymity to whatever extent people know who an anonymous blogger is but aren't actually reading what the person is posting.

* Just to be clear: excepting as a response to real miscreancy, the official JFW position is that one should not attempt to figure out the identity of anyone who wants to be blogging anonymously, and especially not just because one thinks one could figure it out or just because one is curious.

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