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« This Week's Acquisitions | Main | Three thoughts »

January 30, 2011

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Katrinagulliver

Thanks for the mention of my post. That was also a challenge I found with pseudonymity (back when I didn't use my own name), being unable to discuss work in identifiable detail.

Which itself creates a slanted view to readers, in that they are only being shown the personal life of the writer, with the vaguest outline of the professional job.

This is perhaps a particular danger for women - who are already in the unbalanced situation of being judged professionally on personal and social gender norms.

As you mention being in a small field that people would identify anyway: that was kind of my view too. If people really want to find out who you are, they will. So I've always tried to remind myself never to write anything online (even pseudonymously) that I wouldn't be happy to have posted on my office door.

Which of course leads to: if I only write things I'd happily sign my name to, why not just do that?

I also think pseudonymity can lull people into a false sense of security, leading them to post things that could damage them, and posting under one's own name is always a check on that.

Roger

We could probably find out who you are easily enough- it's said that you can identify anyone on the 'web fairly easily if you want to- but why should we? I favour a convention like the early nineteenth century attitude, where many people knew that "the author of Waverley" was Walter Scott, but even though they knew it they accepted the convention that they did not.

Katrinagulliver

"Why should we?" - people tend to be highly motivated to uncover the authors of things they consider scandalous/libelous/etc. Being "uncovered" as the author of Waverley wouldn't have embarrassed Walter Scott, nor brought reciprocal glee to the person who "outed" him, so there was less motivation.

Roger

I don't know much about academia, but I'd be very surprised if an interest in nineteenth-century religious novels was considered scandalous/libelous/etc. Eccentric, yes, but surely a certain eccentricity of the right kind is approved of in academia?

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