Monday, August 23, 2010

Alienation vs. Invasions of Privacy pt. II

As an addendum to Alienation vs. Invasions of Privacy, the complete opposite end of the spectrum of Foursquare (broadcasting your location) is 4chan:
By no coincidence, 4chan stands out not only for the content its users generate but for the way they generate it: with a degree of anonymity almost unheard-of in the online world. Though Poole himself is known to the site's users by the cryptic pseudonym "moot," on 4chan even using a pseudonym is rare. The site has no log-in function, so each message can be posted under whatever name its author chooses, but users are strongly encouraged to post with no identifying name at all. Roughly 90 percent of all messages on 4chan are posted under the site's default identity, "Anonymous." And those messages are not only anonymous but ephemeral, because 4chan has no long-term archives: old message threads are automatically deleted when new ones need the room. This mechanism was originally meant to save storage costs, but as Poole notes, "it's both practical and philosophical." Among other things, it challenges the idea that digital identity should follow you across time, linking what you say when you're a teenager to the middle-aged business owner you might become. In 4chan's heavy traffic, a message can vanish within hours or even minutes of its posting.

No comments: