Saturday, August 04, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous

or, Lurkers, I Love Thee

I'm not especially attached to my anonymity here. It seems to me both too much trouble and oddly self-aggrandizing to be too obsessive about precisely how many minutes with one's blog, one's links and the assistance of google would lead the assiduous reader to the details of your pension plan. Like most of the democratic industrialised world, I'm counting on my extreme and unrelenting dullness to protect me from anything really egregious.

The strange, one-way-perspexy pseudo-privacy of the electronic. Of course there is a seductively impervious, plastic feel to the safety of solitude with the keys under one's fingers. Waxy like a waxwork that never looks quite like Prince William. Scrutiny is not his friend. Reality is the split-second glance.

Still. One of my lurkers, someone I know in this, the much pithier and weirder real world with different Bayesian priors, is searching my blog for himself. By name. Good heavens, dear boy, I do not even refer to myself by name! Sure, it might not be neurosurgery to unearth same with a little intelligent data-mining, but there's laissez-faire and then there's My Supervisor Can Use Google Too, You Know.

You wanna pseudonym?


A loyal lurker, er, reader said...

It wasn't by any chance Brian Leiter? I hear he likes doing this sort of thing (simply google 'Leiter searched for Leiter' and hit the 'I'm feeling lucky' button).

Philosophical question: What's the difference between a (non-posting) reader and a lurker? And, if there is none, are we all lurkers then (at least most of the time)? Now that would sound rather disturbing...

Xtin said...

There is indeed, on these the internets, no difference between a non-posting reader and a lurker. Of course, there must be some vagueness involved in the notion of "non-posting" since there has to be (a) an in principle ability to contribute (b) some level of assumption that a reader will contribute. You can in principle comment on the BBC news website, but I don't think non-posting readers count as lurkers there. On the other hand, on a message board or other "talk" forum a non-posting reader is a clear lurker (I think this context is where the negative connotations on "lurking" accrue). I think blogs are somewhere in the middle. I'm pretty sure no-one thinks it's dubious to lurk on a blog.

Here endeth the lesson.