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13 November 2011 @ 10:19 am
Life in these Untidy States: They've Given You A Number, and Made You Think It's a Name  
It is a classic trope of science fiction that In the Future, We Will Have Numbers Instead Of Names.

In almost every instance of this trope more recent than Ralph 124C 41+, this is a sure sign that you live in a dystopia. It suggests a world in which human concerns are devalued, and society itself is engineered to make it easier for a large, impersonal bureaucracy to track and monitor its citizens subjects.

Over the last few centuries, as Nation-States have arisen and consolidated their power, there has emerged a doctrine that everyone should have one and only one name, used in any and every context; that this is your only "real" name; and that the only possible reasons to use nicknames, pseudonyms, or any alternative to the name recorded in your governmental and financial records are to conceal unsavory practices, or perpetrate outright fraud.

A name that falls outside a limited range of acceptance criteria may not be accepted as a "real" name, and will certainly engender harsh feelings from governmental and corporate bureaucrats inconvenienced by the nonconformity.

As so many things have, this memetic push has accelerated across the close of the 20th Century and the dawn of the 21st.

Be advised, and be aware:

The only difference between this doctrine of "real" names and the dystopian trope of numbers that replace names is the number of bits in your designation.


The intent is to make you easier to track. The intent is to make you a product.

Vernor Vinge warned us, thirty years ago: when someone knows your True Name, they have power over you.

Government watchlists aside, Google and Facebook aren't making money providing you with free email and search and "social networking". They're making money by selling your easily-monitored habits and interests to other corporations. If you operate under more than one name, if you compartmentalize your life and your purchasing power amongst multiple identities, you are diluting their product by making it more difficult to thoroughly profile you—and they consider that intolerable.

Enlightening References:


(I have noticed, and not without irony, that the same kind of people who once ranted about Social Security Numbers as "the Mark of the Beast" tend to automatically and reflexively agree with the idea that people only have one "real name".)
 
 
 
Araquan Skytraceraraquan on November 13th, 2011 07:05 pm (UTC)
I fully understand what Google and Facebook are after- which is why I've pulled out of Google+ and my Facebook account in my really real name has always been (and probably always will be) a placeholder. I've thought of adding a couple photos- maybe some selected train stuff- but only to make it look a little less like one in case a prospective employer should stumble upon it. I guess you're not the only one who finds occasion to roleplay yourself, eh?
Araquan Skytraceraraquan on November 15th, 2011 08:22 pm (UTC)
Addendum, from a Charlie Rose interview with Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg:

Facebook COO Sandberg talked about the power of relationship-based networks, contrasting "the wisdom of crowds to the wisdom of friends."

"So that's Google versus Facebook right there," Rose replied.

Sandberg didn't agree. She thinks the entire first phase of the Web's development -- which led to "a lot of wonderful things" -- was largely based on "anonymity and links between crowds."

The next stage of development, the one Facebook has spearheaded, is built around identity. "The social Web can't exist until you are your real self online," Sandberg said. "I have to be me, you have to be Charlie Rose."


Also, article here.
Your Obedient Serpent: tell it like it ISathelind on November 16th, 2011 01:27 pm (UTC)
The logical fallacy, of course, is the conflation of "real self" with "legal name". You can't be your "real self" if you're always wondering, "what if my boss Googles me?"

I am my "real self" online, and my "social Web" is woven among those who know me as "Athelind" and "Your Obedient Serpent".

That other name? That's not my "real self", Ms. Sandberg. That's my banking information, and I know why you want it.

Edited at 2011-11-16 01:29 pm (UTC)
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