[unrev-II] re: Rhetoric, authorship, and anonymity (was unrev..)

From: blincoln (blincoln@ssesco.com)
Date: Thu Nov 15 2001 - 20:00:58 PST

  • Next message: N. C a r r o l l: "Re: [unrev-II] re: Rhetoric, authorship, and anonymity (was unrev..)"

    first attempt to post this to the ba-ohs-talk list appears to have
    failed, this may be slightly out of date since its a day old :)

    on a tangent for term clarity & trust:

    [sadly i've lost who said this...]

    >Which is why aliases are so beneficial to the Web. They permit
    >freedom of speech, while allowing an anonymous author to develop
    >validity through a series of writings. Clearly one cannot contribute
    >to core code anonymously. But for debugging, why not?

    To point out one confusion that is often made by people
    who are new to the web is the difference between true anonymity
    and pseudonymity. Pseudonymous work can develop trust over
    time, truly anonymous communication is communication which
    doesn't have a reproducible / verifiable author .

    All names are, in the end, arbitrarily chosen and accepted nyms. As
    time passes and trust is developed, the nyms concretize into systems
    which have trust-trees behind them. The US government offers a nym
    certification system involving drivers licenses, social security numbers,
    etc, but all of these are as arbitrarily accepted as meaningful as any
    tag or identifying that can be put on people.

    Humor: Perhaps the Real First Name of a person is their complete DNA sequence
    with date & place of birth appended, their Real Middle Name is the
    complete list of every brain state they have experienced since conception,
    and their Real Last Name being the full list of all DNA sequences which
    were their genetic predecessors back to the Big Bang.

    Or, we can just go by whatever people tell us their name is, like we
    do now :)

    I think this is an important point as one delves into developing
    long term trust systems: not to mistake true anon with pseudo.

    To give a more concrete example, I work in an area
    where the level of social and legal disapproval is so high
    that the worlds top experts in the field write with pseudonyms
    to avoid having their grants denied for political reasons.
    Highly published 60 year old pharmacologists, politicians, lawyers,
    doctors, authors, ministers, chemists, etc are willing to speak about
    certain subjects only if they believe their professional identity
    can be completely firewalled from their more controversial views.

    I suspect that this type of political / social limitation on discourse
    will never go away and I personally wish to increase the quality
    of discourse -particularly- in areas which are legally and socially
    challenging: where the quality of discussion is often worse by virtue
    of anonymous & unverifiable information being a norm.

    What is the appropriate way to handle such situations? In
    my opinion, the solution is simply to have systems where
    trust-trees can be built around any given node or user and thus
    trust for new nyms can be developed over time and through
    demonstrating their ability/reliability. For an individual who
    has two nyms, for instance, if the firewall is not complete
    and there are users/nodes who know and trust nym1 of the
    individual, they can lend part of their trust to nym2 for the individual
    without giving any indication that the two nyms refer to a single



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    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Thu Nov 15 2001 - 19:47:41 PST