27 January 2020

On the Internet, Nobody Knows You're a Dog


by Pete Steiner as published in the New Yorker (1993)


I have been on the Interwebs for a long time. I think I started using it regularly in 1995. And, like anything else, it has changed quite a bit in the intervening years. Not quite ten years after I first got online, I started blogging. At the time, it was very common to use a pseudonym and avatar. There were—and are—tradeoffs in doing so. But here was a benefit I liked:

https://twitter.com/science_goddess/status/428027881009065984

I get that anonymity can confer a lack of validity, but it also offers a means of protection and a different type of engagement. When I first got on Twitter, I ended up following gay and transgender and non-binary people...and people from other countries and cultures...and people with disabilities...and in very few of those cases, I knew any of that information when I first added them to my list. I followed them because I liked what they had to share. I like to think the same thing would happen now, but I don't know if that's true for everyone. The online world feels far more polarized, and I always wonder if that's because people get written off for the way they look or their way their names appear before anyone even takes a look at what they're about. Maybe honesty doesn't engender authenticity the way we think it should.

I wish I knew now what the web would look like in another 20 years. I suspect there will still be blogs and tweets and facey-space pages. There will be new ways, too, to interact and explore. But as concerns around privacy keep mounting, I also suspect that we will see a return to anonymity.  Woof.


Today's tweet was selected from a list provided each day by On This Day.  The account shows a user's full history of tweets for the given calendar date. Just a reminder that I'm going to post a tweet a day from a previous year and expand on it a bit as a way to get back in the habit of sharing via a blog. You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

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