Thursday, March 8, 2012

Screen Names, Alter Egos and Aliases

"Dirigonzo" is, of course, a made-up name - you can even read about how it came to be made-up if you peruse the early posts on this blog. I prefer not to post here, or anywhere else on the Internet for that matter, using my real name. And if anyone were to scrutinize my posts here or elsewhere for clues as to my true identity, a little research might lead them to "Guy Mainer", Dirigonzo's alter ego but of course not my real identity, either. I take these precautions to protect my identity not so I can write anonymously to say outrageous or untrue things about anybody or anything, but simply to stay off the radar of those who cruise the Internet in search of names to harvest for whatever commercial, political or ideological interests they represent. When you put your real name out there, you have no control over where it may wind up or for what purpose it may be used - so I don't do it.

I mention this now because I recently completed an on-line survey for a group that is working to improve the political process in my home town. I support what they are trying to do and want to help them in any way I can, so I answered the questions honestly but when it came to providing my name I balked - not because I don't want them to know who I am (they already do, from other correspondence I have had with them) but because the information on the survey is available to anyone with a computer and a little tech savvy, most importantly including Google, which is the web site that hosts the survey. The extent to which Google collects, correlates and utilizes data about its users is nothing short of Orwellian. If "Big Brother" had a screen name it would be "Google".

So here's my point: There is a real person writing these musings and I am perfectly willing to take ownership and responsibility for them. But I am not going to associate my real name with what I write here or with on-line surveys I complete elsewhere out of an abundance of caution concerning the potential for misuse of my "real" identity. There is a reason that Google and facebook offer all of those really cool applications that you love so much for free - the information that you provide when you use them is worth $Billions and $Billions to them.

So if you really need to know who writes this stuff, just ask me via email and I'll probably tell you - I'm not "anonymous", I'm just cautious.

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