Author Topic: So Much for Reinventing Ourselves Online  (Read 2070 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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So Much for Reinventing Ourselves Online
« on: December 19, 2010, 02:36:44 am »
from THE NEW YORK TIMES:

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December 18, 2010
So Much for Reinventing Ourselves Online
By JENNA WORTHAM

“GREETINGS, Your Highness,” the message began. “I had the pleasure of dining in your kingdom last night.”

Before writing an article about a dating Web site, I’d signed up for it in order to vet its service. Once I was done writing about it, I left my profile up. (Newly single, I figured it couldn’t hurt to see what kind of excitement might turn up.)

Then, a slightly creepy note sailed into my in-box.

“Funny how two discrete online identities can so easily intersect by happenstance,” it read.

My digital admirer said he’d recognized me from a different site, Foursquare, the mobile social network that lets users broadcast their whereabouts to friends. It awards virtual mayorships to the most frequent patrons of bars and restaurants; I’d claimed the crown at a sushi restaurant. When my admirer checked into the joint with Foursquare, a notification declaring my status as mayor popped up, along with my photo and name.

Being contacted by a stranger didn’t alarm me; that’s part of the beauty of sites like Twitter and Facebook, which can help shape new relationships around common interests and friends. But the unexpected addition of romance threw me for a loop. I wasn’t sure how to proceed. Should I meet the man for a drink? I polled my friends.

“NO!” came one shrieking response via text; another friend shrugged, wondering why I was troubled about being unmasked. After all, I live online with few qualms. Facebook and Twitter, plus Foursquare, Tumblr and Instagram, are just the tip of the iceberg. Still, I wasn’t expecting fragments of my online persona to collide in such a jarring way. I’d left out specifics about myself, first to observe that dating site undetected, then to reinvent myself as an eligible bachelorette.

In the end, I didn’t go on the date. I wanted to introduce myself to a handsome stranger at my own pace, rather than be exposed in one fell swoop. I couldn’t reconcile the tectonic imbalance in power and information that came with the note: He knew so much about me, and I knew nothing about him.

But the experience raised a question I haven’t been able to shake. As digital identities become increasingly persistent across the Web, is it still possible to reinvent oneself online?

“We are all going through the uncomfortable experience of discovering just how much information about ourselves that we put out there,” said Ethan Zuckerman, a researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, who studies online expression and the digital world. “As we casually go about our business, we are leaking all kinds of data that someone can piece back together.”

Such discomforting clashes between the lives we lead online and those we lead away from the keyboard are likely to grow in frequency. But there could be bigger issues here than wanting to keep a dating profile discreet, Mr. Zuckerman said, like struggling to protect the identity of a political whistle-blower or a victim of abuse. Retaining anonymity becomes more challenging as the Web populace becomes more interconnected.

“Staying under the radar is very hard to do while using the full features of the Web,” he said. The challenge, he said, is to understand how technology can coax users into sharing more than they might otherwise.

Companies that do business online increasingly tailor their sites to individual users. Netflix, Amazon and Pandora all note your preferences to make their services more useful. The same goes for Facebook and Google, which digest clicking and browsing behavior to customize links and information you see, based on the information you share.

“The future of the Web is to personalize,” said Amit Kapur, the chief executive of Gravity, a start-up in Santa Monica, Calif. “It’s driving a paradigm shift that will change the Web from theirs to ours to yours.”

Gravity, a tool that “mines your interests from Facebook and Twitter to present things from around the Web to you,” is tweaking its software, he said, with the aim of performing functions like delivering improved restaurant recommendations and powering personalized news readers. Such services help companies customize advertising for Web consumers.

That may be fine for businesses, but what do we lose when we can’t mutate and molt through online personas? There’s something deliciously freeing about shedding one’s self to don a shiny new identity. It’s why vast multiuser online games like World of Warcraft have flourished and why the anonymous video-chatting site Chatroulette catapulted in popularity.

The most common case against anonymity is that it gives rise to bad behavior online, allowing a docile Web denizen to slip from a Dr. Jekyll into a Mr. Hyde. And while this is a real problem, some advocates of Web anonymity, like Christopher Poole, the founder of an online community called 4chan, say people should be able to separate their online and offline identities.

“There is always a need,” he said, “to be able to enter into a conversation and have your contribution judged for its merit and not who you are.”

Mr. Poole and some other entrepreneurs are trying to build some layers of anonymity back into the Web. He says he’s doing that with a new company, Canvas Networks, that will experiment with an online community that will allow some identity concealment. Others are creating tools and carving out areas on the Web to preserve discretion. For example, a tool called Disconnect disables third-party tracking while Web surfing. And a search engine called DuckDuckGo does not collect browsing history or any personal identifiable information, its creators say.

B. J. Fogg, a psychologist at Stanford, suggests that in the future, people will not move about the Web undetected or swap identities as easily as a Halloween costume.

“People are not going to go back from disclosing everything and living out their lives online,” he said, adding that an evolutionary shift toward greater online openness is under way.

“The genie is out of the bottle,” he said.

Maybe Mr. Fogg is right, and the demands of a digital lifestyle have set a larger cultural transition into motion. But there is something of a covert resistance afoot, the fringes of which I can see on the Facebook page of my 13-year-old niece. She and her friends use only cute screen names to identify themselves, and the only profile pictures they post are rendered nearly unrecognizable by cartoon hearts and sparkles. Maybe it’s a start.


 

Offline Battle

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Re: So Much for Reinventing Ourselves Online
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2010, 09:58:28 am »
from THE NEW YORK TIMES:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

December 18, 2010
So Much for Reinventing Ourselves Online
By JENNA WORTHAM


1.)In the end, I didn’t go on the date. I wanted to introduce myself to a handsome stranger at my own pace, rather than be exposed in one fell swoop. I couldn’t reconcile the tectonic imbalance in power and information that came with the note: He knew so much about me, and I knew nothing about him.




2.)The most common case against anonymity is that it gives rise to bad behavior online, allowing a docile Web denizen to slip from a Dr. Jekyll into a Mr. Hyde. And while this is a real problem, some advocates of Web anonymity, like Christopher Poole, the founder of an online community called 4chan, say people should be able to separate their online and offline identities.




Smart lady...

There have been a few success stories but there have also been a few horror stories, as well...

Like the one story from around my way where an attractive sister met this handsome, young dude online from Tagged dot com. I think he was Native American from his portrait in the newspapers but I'm not certain. Anyway, She  met this guy and they have been dating for a few months until she decided that she wanted to move on.
Somewhere in their relationship, the dude didn't want to break the relationship off and the next thing you know... the woman is missing for a few weeks.  Turned out that she was found dead and burned up in her car and her recent beau was the suspect.  To make a long story short (this is where I had actually picked up the story), the dude was convicted and sentenced for the woman's murder.  All that from a quick meeting online.  
On the flipside, some women are actually attracted to psychopaths!
« Last Edit: December 19, 2010, 01:04:29 pm by Battle »

Offline Vic Vega

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Re: So Much for Reinventing Ourselves Online
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2010, 01:08:12 am »
I dont do social media at all. Unless messageboards count as social media.

No Myspace, Facebook or Twitter. I have little interest in it and the more I hear the more paranoid I get.  Folks keep telling me to get a Facebook account. 

I understand how enjoyable it is for some.

Ok meeting women online i get.  But the rest of it? While i can see the utility of keeping tabs on your aquaintances, i'm wondering what the point of it all is.

Are there any practical uses for this stuff? Has anybody ever gotten a job thru a friend they met on Facebook? Is anybody collaborating with a contact met there? This stuff must be working for somebody.

Otherwise why am I sharing vacation photos with folks I barely see or speak to in person? Why do I want casual aquaintances to know my whereabouts? Is it a status thing?

I am really interested in this trend towards E-oversharing as it runs so counter to the way my mind works.

I guess I am just old.

Offline Battle

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Re: So Much for Reinventing Ourselves Online
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2010, 09:35:55 am »
I believe, once you unlock  its more useful features you'll apreciate the tool it really is.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2011, 02:07:30 pm by Battle »

Offline Battle

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Re: So Much for Reinventing Ourselves Online
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2011, 08:18:42 pm »
The era of the annoying forum troll will soon end!

Obama administration moves forward with unique internet ID for Americans, Commerce Department to head system up
by Laura June

President Obama has signaled that he will give the United States Commerce Department the authority over a proposed national cybersecurity measure that would involve giving each American a unique online identity.

Would you like to know more?


http://www.engadget.com/2011/01/09/obama-administration-moves-forward-with-unique-internet-id-for-a/


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I'm all for it!