Musings of an expat grad student... oy vey.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Anonymity.

First, an enormous thank-you to everyone who responded to my last post. Even if the news isn't particularly rosy careerwise, I'm used to overcoming adversity, and it's really nice to know that I'm not alone in this quest. I've also found a few excellent blogs, to which I've linked: Otto's and handworn's.

This blog entry may be short, as my husband and I are currently back across the pond on a two-week trip to visit my parents and brother in Big City, and we're about to go out for dinner. But I'll add onto it later, most likely.

I made a decision about this blog when I started it: that it would be completely anonymous. And to that end, I decided that I will censor myself, to a certain extent. These are the skeletal facts about me: I am married, female, an expat living in London and a few weeks into a humanities PhD. These are the labels I place upon myself, the categories into which I allow my reader(s) to place me. In each of those declarations, I eliminate a level of uncertainty as to my identity.

But there are two big issues, for me, when it comes to anonymity. The first is one of safety, and the second is one of honesty.

We've all heard the stories about the bloggers who have been outed and lost their jobs because of it. I believe Dooce was the first, but certainly not the last. Several academic bloggers have been investigated, suspended, or fired because their blogs have ceased to be anonymous. While the Internet affords some level of pseudonymic anonymity, it is far from completely anonymous, and its reach is far, its memory long. While I'm not particularly worried about anything I've said online in the past coming back to haunt me, there are a few questionable pictures of me floating around out there which I wouldn't want future employers to see. (No, nothing like that... but a certain photo of me and a few friends in truly garish Halloween costumes comes to mind.) I've also been stalked online on more than one occassion by men who refuse to take no for an answer. One of them found out where I lived and I had to sic the security guard in my building on him. Shudderworthy.

Therefore, in the interests of my present and future safety, I will not be blogging about people at my school, or people in my department, even by pseudonym. I may blog about friends, but only in the most general of terms. I will not be blogging about particulars of my research, or even about my field in general. I will never post pictures. So, unfortunately, I'll be pretty boring if you're interested in horror stories about students and the like.

I will, however, be blogging about questions, and answers. About how George W. Bush is an asshole. About concepts and theories and how they apply to life. About myself, and sometimes about my husband. About my cat and the dumb things she does. About postmodernism and poststructuralism and all those other posts.

But never will I brush aside that curtain entirely.

Off to dinner now: honesty and censorship, next time.

2 Comments:

  • Thanks for the link. I will be in London to deliver a paper in a couple of weeks. I am sure you can sneak into the audience anonymously. :-)

    By Blogger J. Otto Pohl, at 2:52 PM  

  • Scary stuff, innit? I keep expecting to hear that some professor has mounted a lawsuit over the issue. For now, the crack-down on academic blogs just confirms the notion of Academia as a dysfunctional family that abuses its children -- and yet forbids them to tell about it, making the dysfunction a 'family secret.'

    Thanks for the links and your thoughts on this!

    : ) "Carine"

    By Blogger Carine Bichet, at 10:25 AM  

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