27 January 2014

Just me: blogging under my name

I see at Denim and Tweed that Hope Jahren has started a project to collect stories from scientists who blog under their real names. I talked about this at the Identity session at Science Online last year. Luckily, this one was recorded, I start at 8:40 in. I have transcribed my comments (lightly edited) below.


I’m Doctor Zen, and I have the advantage that a lot of people think that’s a pseudonym. But it isn’t. It is my real name, and I have always worked under my real name from the beginning, and there are a couple of reasons for that.

One of which is that I’ve been blogging for a long time. When I started blogging, I don’t think there were any examples or models of pseudonymous bloggers. So it never occurred to me that I would do anything other than be me, for whatever that means.

And, also, I had this idea of what I wanted to achieve as an academic, as a scientist, which – and this sounds incredibly pretentious – was to be a public intellectual. To be somebody that was going to bring ideas and be visible and be noticed. For me, that was kind of the point of being a professor.

Now I realize having said that, that I have advantages. I’m a guy. I’m a white guy, as it happens to be. And now, I have even more advantages, ‘cause I’m a tenured white guy. I’m the person, you know... Now I’ve sort of taken it upon myself to try to use that more, and some of you have heard the kilt story: I wear the kilt as a reminder to myself to be fearless. And that’s always been my point and why I’ve continued, and I’ve never had any desire to take on a pseudonym (that you know of) because I’ve always felt, to use another superhero metaphor, that Sci saw on her blog, to use the Ghost Rider: “You can’t live in fear.”

(But it’s easier for me to not live in fear.)

Additional: Shortly asfter I posted this, Doctor Becca wrote:

Seriously, white dudes. You do not need to explain why you don't use a pseudonym.

And:

I am just annoyed by the slew of “why I blog under my real name” posts.

I hadn’t realize when I wrote this that there were more posts today both at Hope Jahren’s group post some of which were crossposted on individual blogs, like Small Pond Science.

Sorry that I was vain enough to highlight my own comments. I hope anyone interested in this topic will view the video I linked to above, which contains much more good discussion.

Related posts

Using advantages
Science Online 2013: Days 3 and 4

External links

On blogging under my Real Name
Why I write with my own name
#scio13ID We are who we are? Who are we? Issues of identity and the internet
On identity: #Scio13
Group Post: Real-Life Identity and The Internet
DNLee: Real-Life Identity and The Internet
Karen James: Real-Life Identity and The Internet

1 comment:

Dennis said...

Good comments. I've posted on this topic before (http://www.ddmcd.com/anonymous.html) but your make very good points. Being a "tenured white guy" DOES make a difference.

To all those coming up who make good arguments about the value of online "anonymity" I say (1) do you really expect me to trust you and your ideas if I don't know who you are and where you are coming from? and (2) do you REALLY believe that in theses days of Google and the NSA you can REALLY maintain online anonymity?