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Posts Tagged ‘Identity’

Traditionally, these blog things start out with some sort of introductory post.  It’s sort of the text equivalent of a “hello, I’m Bob the Fish” that you might offer at a social gathering in real life before going on to the preconversation chatter about the weather or the hostess, then slowly weaving in to any other relevant topics.  Of course, this isn’t always necessary, as I’ve certainly had conversations in stores (hardware stores, usually… it’s a guy thing) where no names were exchanged.  Still, it’s nice to give a sense of who you are to begin with, if only to set a tone for any later writing.  A blog that starts with a “Hello World” post will read differently from a blog starting with a “Did You See What SHE Was Wearing?” post, though either is just fine.

Here’s my initial post, in all its rough glory, for better or worse.

I jumped into the blogging world by commenting on other blogs, like Big Bear Butt‘s place (he’s the one that really prompted me to start blogging, as he appreciated my comments, thereby making me think I might have something to offer… though I should probably post my rather verbose entries on my own pages), Spinksville, Wolfshead, Muckbeast, Stylish CorpseCapn’ John’s and I Has PC.  The administrators of these and other blogs have been gracious, engaging folk, and I think of them as friends that I’ve never met in person.  Their interests are varied, though there’s the common thread of MMOs that wound up leading me to each of them.  They don’t all get along with each other all the time.  They don’t have shared politics, philosophies or schemes for world domination.  (Not sure on that last one, actually.)  And yet, they all have great writing skills, strong personalities and interesting things to say.  And, well… I’m pretty sure I never read any of their introductory posts.  Sometimes, it’s perfectly fine to just hit the ground running.  After my quick intro post, I wound up posting this juggernaut of an article: Apple Picking.

That’s fairly indicative of my style.  I’ve done a lot of writing in my day, and I tend to explore implications and dig into game design decisions and theory.  It’s probably a bit dry, a bit verbose, and the language is a bit esoteric and archaic in places.  In sum, though, that’s my “voice”, so that’s how my posts settle out of the mental morass of ideas that I itch to get in type.  Sometimes, it’s as much about getting thoughts down “on paper” as it is about offering some thoughts to the internet.  It’s my experience that the act of formulating thoughts into a cohesive bit of text tends to refine said thoughts and make them more easily remembered and more easily explained.

At the end of the day, writing a blog is something you do because you want to, and what you write should be a reflection of that.  If nothing else, you are your own audience, and if writing is a drudge or a bore, it’s OK to do something else.  If you’re having fun writing and engaging with any commenters who happen to wander by, hey, that’s icing on the cake.

So really, you don’t need to answer the question “who am I?” right away, or even explicitly at all.  Most of us operate under a nom de plume anyway, the digital equivalent of trucker or ham radio “handles”, and that’s how we are known.  That’s part of the beauty of this internet thing; I’m Tesh, the guy who writes this blog.  My real name isn’t important, nor are silly things like skin color, weight, clothing, or any of the other superficial things that people are judged and prejudged by.  My articles can stand on their own merit or lack thereof, my ideas and my writing have a purity of presentation that might not be possible in other venues.  To be sure, there’s a sense of common courtesy and even subtle undercurrents of online politics and agendas that one may run afoul of, but for the most part, this blogging thing is remarkably clear of a lot of cruft that other modes of communication deal with.  There’s just something… pristine about words on a “page” that makes for a nice philosophical playground.

Who am I?  I’m Tesh.  Who are you?  Well, that’s up to you. May as well make the most of it.

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Apparently Facebook doesn’t like Tobold.  Google+ probably doesn’t like him either.  Zuckerberg thinks it has to do with integrity. I say it’s about revenue, and “integrity” is just a pretty facade to hide behind.  It’s harder to monetize a handle (yes, I wrote about this before, just in a different setting).

In a world where we still judge someone by what they look like instead of what they do, and where appeals to authority are more persuasive than logic, and prejudice fuels hate crimes, face value is a… flexible thing.  Identity is similarly flexible.  Choosing what face you present to the world seems to me to be something best left to the individual.  Until Wikileaks takes an interest in you, anyway, all in the name of “disclosure”, another pretty euphemism with delightfully Patriotic overtones to browbeat dissent.  Because really, only the bad guys have information to hide, right?

If nothing else, even the “circles” design of G+ stands as testament to letting the user control the flow of information, though their iteration of RealID doesn’t (link to an excellent article, by the way).  Certain conversations and information simply isn’t meant for everyone; even if it isn’t really sensitive and “private” (and not really belonging online anyway), different circles of acquaintances won’t care about everything the same way those in other circles will.  That said, G+ is about revenue as well, even though they talk a good game about trying to keep discourse civil because, hey, who can object to civility?  They market information.  The services need to be monetized somehow.  Of course your identity has value, and they will tap that as well as they can.  You can’t complain much about a scorpion, after all.  Maybe that’s “lazy nihilism” to recognize that fact, but I prefer to call it pragmatism.  Much like you can’t realistically expect a politician to refrain from lying (though they might call it “discretion”), you can’t expect a business to operate as a charity.  Charities operate just fine, but businesses are different things.  (Not that profit itself is a bad thing, to be sure.  There are good businesses out there.)

In the meantime, though, for those like Samuel Clemens, Lady Gaga or even J. K. Rowling, the best solution seems to be to avoid those channels where your choice in identity is ignored.  Certainly those of the faceless masses with petty prejudices won’t mind if you simply step out of the flow of society; you’re easier to ignore that way.

I’m idly curious about transgendered people… how do they fit in?  What about the girl with the obviously Muslim or Jewish name?  What about the guy who can’t seem to escape the melanin in his face?  What part does choice have to play in identity, and are some choices more approved than others?  It always seems to me that these social paragons have suspiciously squishy standards.  Massaging the message by silencing certain undesirables that don’t share your worldview is certainly the prerogative of an information broker, but that doesn’t say much about “integrity” in conversation.

But then, this never really was about integrity.  It’s about the value your face has, and who gets to control that value.

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Alternate title:

What Value, Identity?

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In simpler terms, we pay for our entertainment in one way or another.  So-called “Free to Play” games (F2P) tend to either ask for money in bite-sized chunks (microtransactions) or ask you to earn your goodies by playing for a longer time than other players (paying with time), or maybe even “offer wall” points from a third party or some such gibberish.  Some games ask for both money and time.  A rarer game might try to be advertisement-based, running with a network TV/Google approach to monetization; get the eyeballs in and inundate them with advertising spam.

Perhaps now we get to see another way to pay for our MMO crack, er, service:  with your identity.

Apparently, identity theft is a pretty big industry, er, crime.  There is even a counterindustry built around protection rackets, er, protecting your identity, like the Lifelocks of the world and their competitors.  Your identity has value. It’s really no surprise that there would be those out there in the unsavory world of business, er, crime, that might be trying to find ways to unlock some of that value.

Welcome to a Brave New World of cataclysmic proportions, where paying for a product, er, service, isn’t merely a business transaction, it’s personal.

Next up?  DNA authenticators and paying with a pound of flesh.  (With discounts tied to the Big Brother international registry of BMI, of course.)

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Acerbic slippery slope aside, I do officially register a complaint about this Bad Idea.  Hatch, Larisa, Dwism, Ixobelle (x2!), Ratshag, Klepsacovic and Spinks cover it pretty well, though.

Oh, and if we’re honestly going to talk about cleaning up the forums, might I suggest the following?

Forum Mute

Combine that with a /complain function and no nonsense moderation, and you’ll clean things up without all those nasty, tricksy unintended consequences and Facebook diseases on the way down the slippery slope.

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More from Ysharros, Spinks, BBB, Copra (as cited by Longasc, he’s right that this is about building a brand and a business… the concerns of the little people aren’t relevant), KIASA, Lum, Chastity, Gnomeaggedon, Melfina (yay for a rational feminist perspective), br3ntbr0 (with a video, no less), Jason and Tobold.  This even teased Ryan Shwayder out of his slumber.

Bonus points to Stabs for finding this little gem.  Oh, and this really shouldn’t surprise anyone, either.  This is somewhat… alarming, too.

Ooh, shiny!  Channel Massive (hi, Jason!) has a nice roundup of a spectrum of responses.  As usual, I disagree with about everything Darren says (the man has no common sense), and TAGN has a good post up.

…oh, and Syp totally called it; whenever he’s away from the shop, something big happens.  It’s eerie, I tell you!

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