Quoted for Truth

Yes. This. Please remember.

(Venn diagram by Dave Hoffman)

36 Comments on “Quoted for Truth”

  1. This is part of why I use my real name online–so that I don’t let a pseudonym lure me into a false sense of privacy.

    I understand why other people use them anyway, and I’m not suggesting that pseudonymity is synonymous with over-sharing, but for me, it’s a good reminder that the things I say online can and will find their way back to me. If I want to keep a secret, I keep it to myself.

  2. I may have to request official use of this diagram for our Info literacy class that we teach to incoming freshman. They don’t get that the Internet is public. They think it’s some cool secret thing only they and their friends know about. Then I pick on one of them in the class and Google their name. That starts to make it sink in but we need all the visual help we can get.

  3. Plus, you have CEOs of Companies Claiming Not To Be Evil saying stuff like “hey, if you don’t like us taking pictures of your house with Google Street View, you can just move!”

    Oooookay then.

  4. I want two more circles that don’t intersect any of the other three, labeled “government control” and “provider control”.

  5. Keith@3: Googling one’s name can be an eye-opener. I did that a few years ago and found not only the forum posts and magazine articles I’d written, but:

    1) I had been involved in a messy divorce.

    2) I had sued the school board of the district where I was a physical education teacher.

    3) I had been a guest of the Ohio Department of Corrections.

    4) I was deceased and left unclaimed money with an electric co-op.

    Not only were these people not me, they weren’t even each other. Apparently my name is common among the rabble.

  6. …Which is not to say we shouldn’t hold accountable those companies or individuals who share information about us without authorization.

    Mistrust, but Verify.

    (Yes, I do recognize that authorization can be tacit.)

  7. DaveH@7: I am apparently a yoga instructor, an industrial designer, and a videographer.

    Also, there are a lot of dead versions of me in many genealogical listings. It’s good to have a common name.

  8. That could have been helpful to one of our politicians in the UK this last week. Right wing (for the UK) council chief Mike Gardner went toa costume party dressed as Adolf Hitler. We found out about this only because he posted the pictures on Facebook. Than he screamed about invasion of privacy when all the newspapers gleefully printed copies.

  9. Googling for my name reveals that I:

    1) Mistyped my own name and am a famous hockey player
    2) Have a facebook (not mine)
    3) Recently died
    4) am alternately a photographer, actor, and college football quarterback from Illinois

    I’m still amused that a couple years ago Google thought I was a bunch of buildings named Brett (where various functions and things were held, in various cities). Heck, googling my most common online pseudonym doesn’t get me on the first page or two.

    Having an even more common name than mine means you have *some* anonymity, anyway.

  10. Annalee: Ditto, though I have such a common name that I have pretty good privacy even using my full name. I have a vanity Google alert for “John Murphy” which turns up obituaries pretty frequently. I almost never turn up in that alert myself, actually, except when I comment here on the Whatever. So… thanks, Scalzi, for helping prove that I exist?

  11. Typing in my name gives me something to the order of 1,000,000.00 hits, none of which on the first 30 pages are me (sue me i was bored).

    Typing in my husband’s name gives a lot of hits but they are all him.

    I don`t know which is better – a common name or an uncommon one.

  12. I’m an apparently well-respected literature professor in Ireland…could be worse.

    I wish I could share this with all of the young people (i.e. individuals still in middle/high school or undergrad) of my acquaintance. They just don’t get it…

    Of course, I also feel a strong desire to tell those gol-darnit kids to get off my lawn, and wave my cane at them….

  13. The diagram is not entirely true, but as a rule, doing something you want kept private should be done privately. And the internet isn’t exactly the most private place in the world.

    Unfortunately, it’s also true with online ecommerce privacy to a larger degree that I am comfortable. 8-(

  14. On the pseudonymity discussion:

    I use my nethandle for exactly the opposite of the presumed reason for using a false name. I’ll never have the googlejuice to be “Daniel Ross” (I have multiple regionally famous doppelgangers), but I can pretty well guarantee anything you find from “Nentuaby” is my strange maunderings.

  15. I’m apparently a Playboy Playmate of the Year – which would be a tremendous surprise to my husband and kids.

    Like John Murphy my given name is common enough to give a modicum of privacy all by itself. I’m actually easier to track and more distinctive under my pseudonym.

  16. I Googled my legal name once and found a guy in Wisconsin getting more hits than me.

    He friended me on Facebook.

    I also have to explain to people that I am not the Buick dealer, the palm reader, or the conservative guy from Canada.

    Oh, and I’m not the music teacher, so stop emailing me to teach oboe to your teenage kid.

  17. What lets privacy exist in the real world that doesn’t apply online? Locks can be broken, guns can be ambushed, laws can be changed.

    There is privacy in the real world because we have laws to ensure we have privacy. We can achieve privacy online with the right laws and sufficiently good software.

  18. sure you can be private online, neither this nor my email is actually my name. I’m sure the more inventive of the readers here could eventually find out who I am, but it would take a little work. of course this wasn’t my most secure of fake emails, but i use others for other things. A little effort and you can stay completely anonymous. Had I used a burnable email it would remain completely anonymous, or very close to. ISP tracking and whatnot being available could narrow my geographic location to say, one of my neighbors, but not to me exactly.

  19. My first name is one of the top ten baby girl names for the past five centuries.

    My last name is the 64th most common English surname.

    Up until 2005, I was the top hit for my name. Then the semi-famous actress who shares it took over. Which is sort of fine, because prior to that I got all her fan mail, including questions about what it was like to kiss Angelina Jolie.

    I also share a name with a science fiction editor (which actually became a small issue when Jo Walton tuckerised me in Half a Crown–she couldn’t use my full name for the first character, so I ended up with a second character which had my other name. Kind of a good deal for me.)

    And I share a name with a folksinger as well. And apparently a gubernatorial candidate. Huh.

  20. There is actually only one of me in the country.

    Yes, my ancestors showed up here recently enough that I am related to virtually everybody in America with my last name, and I’m the only one of me so far. My kids are in an identical situation.

    Because of that, I am extreeeeeeemely careful about not putting my name (or theirs) online. I have absolutely no plausible deniability, you know?

  21. I live my life by one of my grandmother’s favourite sayings – “Never write anything down you wouldn’t want read out in court”.

    This applies to everything from open blogs to private emails to insurance forms.

    It doesn’t stop me from posting something controversial, or even just silly, but it is surprising how often imagining The Council for the Prosecution reading out what I am writing in a dead-pan tone alters how I choose to phrase something.

    And sometimes I imagine the Count from Sesame Street reading it out. Ahahahaha!!! *thunder rolls*

  22. @akeeyu 24

    With about 300 people worldwide and less than 45 in country sharing my surname, all of whom more or less closely related, I’m careful with it as well. Anything I openly do on the net has to be directly attributable to me.

  23. My individual names are not unique, but I was the only person with my first and maiden name in the US. Which is part of why I don’t use it online anymore.

    @Max: I understand that it’s possible to make yourself at least mostly disappear online, with the right combination of tools. But, since I’m not motivated enough to use those tools, I’m not anonymous, and don’t want myself thinking I am.

  24. Let’s consider two things that are happening right now:

    1) The Department of Justice is searching for terrorists, using databases that record the activities of Americans:

    March 20, 2007 “The FBI’s general counsel, Valerie Caproni, testified today on Capitol Hill that the FBI entered into contracts with AT&T, Verizon and MCI to harvest phone records on American citizens under a national security letter program that has come under fire from Congress and the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General for circumventing privacy laws.
    (Source: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2007/03/fbi_confirms_co )

    2) Algorithms are being developed to aid this search:

    “Ian Horseley is employed in the anti-fraud department of a large British bank; but in his every spare moment for the past few years he has been working hard in collaboration with Steve Levitt to build an algorithm that can identify potential terrorists by their retail banking data.

    An excerpt: “The procedure [to build the algorithm] would require two steps. First, assemble all the available data on these hundred-plus suspects [already arrested by British police after the 7/7 bombings] and create an algorithm based on the patterns that set these men apart from the general population. Once the algorithm was successfully fine-tuned, it could be used to dredge through the bank’s database to identify other potential bad guys.” ”
    (Source: http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/16/superfreakonomics-book-club-can-a-bankers-algorithm-help-catch-would-be-terrorists )

    So what does this have to do with Google? Well, here are some questions that don’t have clear lines between good and evil:

    1: Would Google be willing to turn over records of customers connected to counterterroism investigations (i.e. do what Verizon and AT&T did)?
    2: Will Google help develop the algorithms used to identify potential terrorists?
    3: If Google did this, would they tell us?

  25. My name is sufficiently unusual that the closest people to share it are a professor in London, a musician’s son, and a college student in Australia. I did buy one of the professor’s books after I found that out, so maybe name sharing is not all bad.

  26. I like to think there is a photographer in Baltimore and a Councillor in North Ireland who have to continually assure people that no, they don’t write hyper-violent contemporary fantasy. That’s some other dude with the same name.

  27. I discovered the AU Mary-Sue version of myself the last time I Googled my name. She lives in the city where I was born, she paints, she writes and edits for a living (I had to double check that she isn’t a villain, but no, it’s advertising copy or something and not freelance editing for a vanity publisher). Also, um, she’s kinda hot. I’m sure there’s something wrong with wanting to date one’s name-doppelganger, but since there’s almost no chance that we’re actually related, I can’t think what.

  28. I think it wise to get that public sites are public.
    I am not entirely sure if that means internet providers ought to be allowed to sell your surfing bdhaviour to third party companies who take it upon themselves to mine the data and pass to the government identities of people the private company ought to be investigated. Bypassing the requirement to get a warrant to search by having politically motivated private companies do it for you kinda misses the point.

    At this point we have the technology commonly available that we could get a USB single that generates true random numbers based off quantum mechanics, store that random data in a 64gb secure digital card, and have it all controlled by your Droid phone. Altogether this would give you enough key data to have one time pad encryption of hundreds of hours of videophone calls or hundreds of thousands of voice only calls, or similar.

    So we could at least get back to the point where the government used to have to get a warrant to tap your phone line.

%d bloggers like this: