Monday, 3 October 2005

On identity and anonyminity in an interconnected world

When I first started using this domain name it was because I'd decided I wanted a slightly more anonymous blog, because my students had found my old site way too easily and, while there wasn't anything dodgy on my site, it linked to some sites that linked to some dodgier stuff.

So, I created this site, mothballed my old one, didn't give a forwarding address and started again. I even deleted old usernames for various forums, which were linked to the old site and used my full name, to make it less likely a student would stumble across this site.

But, it's been very difficult to decide when to use my "real identity" for things, or my Mactually ID. Some areas have merged and blurred, so a blog I started to talk about cycling in Darlington became a blog for the Darlington Cycling Campaign, which was all done under my real name. I registered with the Hamsterley Trailblazers forum, using my Mactually name and email, but not linking to the site. I registered with the North East Cyclo Cross League forum as 'Mike', using my Mactually email, but not linking here, because some students also went to the races. I felt like I shouldn't link from here to the results, because that used my full name.

I set out to make something completely anonymous, my proxy blog for Alan Milburn MP, and ended up with my real full name printed in The Times! (I still haven't found out how the journalist made the link...)

Being completely anonymous on the internet doesn't work, when there's crossover between the real world and the 'virtual world'. Someone at the cyclo cross asks me if I'm Mike; does he know me from the Trailblazers site, the NECCL site, the On-One forum, the Bike Darlington blog, a friend of a friend? Should I comment on my friend's blogs as Miketually or with my real name?

There's too much crossover between the real world and the internet and Google sees all so I'm no longer going to try to keep everything separate. I was probably being a bit over-paranoid anyway, since there's not really anything here I would discuss with my students anyway.

Google sees all:

After that, there's various blog comments and spam links (including some for penile enlargements worryingly). Perhaps it's best my students find this site first after all...

My name is Mike McTimoney and this is my blog.

1 comment:

Andrew U said...

Note to self: Don't follow any more links that Mike posts with “lycra� in the title…