Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Cyber authoritarianism

Oh Lordy, now Jonathan Friedland is joining in:

... the blogo-sphere, which could be a new, revolutionary public space, instead becomes a stale, claustrophobic environment, appealing chiefly to a certain kind of aggressive, point-scoring male - and utterly off-putting to everyone else. This is not just bad news for media outlets like the Guardian, keen to build an audience; it means that this great democratic opportunity is lost.
At present, you can be an irascible, misogynistic anti-semite online with little or no consequence. But what if that began to affect the rest of your online life? Note how careful people are to be well-regarded on eBay, where money is at stake. Might it not be possible to have a single online identity, one that you cared about, even if it had little connection to your identity in the real world?
Yup, that's already possible, Jonathan. It's open to sites to adapt their technologies and insist on registrations shared across domains and urls if they wish. In fact, they can do as they like and if there is a need or desire for this it will be fulfilled. There's even nothing stopping a site or group of sites managing online identities as closely as do, say, banks.

That's the beauty of free choice.

But to oblige people to have a single identity has ramifications that do extend beyond the online world. Authoritarian ramifications. You'd have to limit the way people connect to the internet and monitor or control their online identity.

Very New Labour, in fact. (Just to score a point, with masculine aggression).

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