Monday, January 29, 2007

Pseudonymous Blogging

Just read this excerpt of Bitch, Ph.D.'s MLA talk on pseudonymous blogging.

I'm fascinated and want to respond--just not right at this moment. So this is a placeholder for that.

Nah, I said I'd get back to my Southeast Asia trip too and I still haven't done that, so I'll go ahead and jot a quick response for now. Here's an excerpt from the excerpt:

We all joke that “on the internet, no one knows you’re a dog,” but it seems to me that, in fact, this isn’t true. Even unschooled readers are fairly savvy about generic form, and one of the formal conceits of public discourse is that people whose social identities are marked as “other”--women, in this case--will, when writing personally, draw attention to their persons. Pseudonyms prevent texts from being impersonal, from pretending to objectivity; they draw attention to the author’s role in a way that a straight byline does not. At the same time, though, pseudonyms make a text more fully public: by hiding the author’s identity, the author becomes potentially anyone. Pseudonyms mean something, and one of the things they mean is that the pseudonymous writer has a reason for pseudonymity. When pseudonymity becomes a generic feature, as with essay periodicals and blogs, one of the things that means is that the genre entails risk, that publishing is risky.

Yes, and it's worth mentioning that in the blogosphere you can comment anonymously, but you can't really author a blog anonymously. Even with an empty profile, you're still constructing a persona; the title of the blog will become the pseudonym if nothing else does.

2blackdogz is my pseudonym in the conventional sense, but it's also a pseudo-nym, an illusion of pseudonymity, for a few friends know this blog exists and I deliberately use it to share a bit of my life with them.

As for risk, there's that too. I'm nearly tenured and not particularly motivated to leave my institution right now so I'm not awfully concerned about the implications of future colleagues discovering that I'm a dog-lover who writes novice haiku and periodically rants about a very painful, much protracted divorce. To me the risk--at present--isn't about exposing my personal life to critical colleagues, but rather the risk is about inviting too many people into my pseudo-dialogue. I prefer the occasional posts of (a) total strangers with a genuine interest in the text, and (b) a few friends with close connections to my subjects or to me personally--to those who might otherwise look up my blog by name. It's my party.

My Barkean Parlor.



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