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Faking it?

--This is an old post that didn't travel over into this blog: originally posted 1 Dec. 2006--
--And then I couldn't post it here due to another problem to do with a 'mod_security' module on the Apache sever (apparently, I don't understand what it was) - I will blog about that in the Geekzone at some point--

I have had a blog under a pseudonym for a few years, but now I am starting this one. Why? Because I want to use this as a basis for the research I’m doing into blogs and the internet in general, and I am worried that the previous blog may have some opinions that may not be appreciated by some…

I have been faced few interesting dilemmas because of this:
• I feel a sense of loss, I like my old nick and it’s been my online identity for a long time. This relates to the sense of identity, how I have invested something of ‘myself’ into my blog (e.g. Reed “My Blog is Me”)
• There’s an ethical dilemma: am I being duplicitous? I may engage in research (e.g. interviews) with bloggers who have interacted with my other identity.
• Another ethical issue: should I keep my other one going at the same time that I keep this one going? A related question, that is an important one, is what moral standards am I to keep to? ‘Online’ or ‘offline’ ones? Or is there a difference?
• I could also just delete a whole bunch of posts from the other one, and then ‘come out’ on that one – but is that also going against some moral code of some kind?
• I am engaging in self-censorship by taking this course of action. What moral duties do I have to avoid that?

In essence, the issues seem to go to the core of the discussion around online identities, and the meaning of blogs to bloggers. In the offline world we do not usually have the option to pretend to be other people, though some do – e.g. cross-dressers: and even then they usually claim to be doing so in order to be able to physically represent their ‘true self’ (see Butler for discussions of this). Online we can, and many people do: purely by the need to take a nick, and the impossibility of taking the same one as someone else (due to database reasons), the internet initiate is given a chance to recreate themselves. Offline, we may have the same name as someone else – but our bodies provide the guarantee of our uniqueness.

OK that’s it for today – I can feel many more thoughts. But I’m not to use this as an excuse to procrastinate either.

By the way: many interesting articles on blogs in this issue of Reconstruction.

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Works mentioned:
Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1999.
Reed, Adam. “‘My Blog Is Me’: Texts and Persons in UK Online Journal Culture (and Anthropology)”. Ethnos. 70.2 (June 2005): 220-242.

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