The end of persona?

05Dec08

I’ve spent a lot of time this year talking about persona, which makes it a little ridiculous that I find myself writing now about its possible demise. We’ve barely got started.

The problem is ‘the end on online anonymity‘, where Sarah Perez argues that the Lori Drew case will cause us to lose the freedom to use a pseudonym or alternate persona. If this was true then I feel that it would be very bad, but let’s unpick the details a bit:

  1. This is a classic knee jerk reaction of a legal system to an awful event. Things have far from stabilised, and as one of the commenters points out the scope is very limited for the time being.
  2. The US != the internet, and that becomes more true every day.  From my own local perspective the UK has become all too adept at importing stupid stuff, but there’s latency there and a hope of balance being brought by the EU.
  3. This is about web site terms and conditions. Most of the popular social networking sites seem to have taken a line that you have to be yourself. That’s fine, though I think enfolding Ts&Cs in legal precedent is bad; they’re often just as abusive of real legal rights as most EULAs (which is why we need reasonableagreement.org). Forcing you to be yourself isn’t the case with MMORPGs, and I’m sure that there are plenty of other corners of the web where alternate persona makes commercial or social sense and will thus be allowed by the Ts&Cs.

I therefore think the end of persona (and the anonymity it may confer) isn’t yet nigh. The sky isn’t falling, and the trolls can still hide under there bridges. If you don’t like trolls, then probably best to avoid bridges.



One Response to “The end of persona?”

  1. 1 Chris Swan

    It’s interesting to see Ed Felton speculating a reversal of the Lori Drew case at appeal in his Predictions for 2009 – http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/blog/felten/predictions-2009


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