Monday, January 30, 2012

I'm letting go of everything that I know, I'm losing it

Back again for more Google+ punishment.

Kee to Yonatan:
1. How do I get my name approved in advance? You don't want to invest in a social network only to discover that your credentials aren't good enough. I have another name that has a (in my mind at least) substantial following elsewhere. It has a Google+ account, but obviously I haven't been posting publicly. I don't want to invest time and effort building relationships and making posts only to have it flagged and not pass your criteria.

2. I'm confused by your statement that Google+ can be your first network. How can it be my first network if I'm just starting out using a not-on-my-license name? It seems to me that if I am, for instance, a closeted LGBT and I want to start networking with similar people, I'm going to have to start on Twitter or some other place and only come to Google+ after several years if I've built a following. Am I missing something?
These are very good questions. And really, considering that Google only introduced Google+ relatively recently, many folks had Facebook pages, journal pages, Twitter and Tumblr and Plurk and Flickr before Google+ ever lumbered onto the scene. So how can it be anyone's "first network"? That's specious on the face of it.

And for the first point, that one I'm also finding a valid point--because why would I (or anyone who wants to use a non-"traditional" name, or a pseudonym) want to invest anything in Google+ if we're only going to have our access killed later on? Who wants to waste the time?

Gary to Yonatan:
You mention that one of the things Google discovered in running the site has been that real names are better or needed in some way. Can you elaborate on this? Is there any actual data to back up that statement?
I'd love to know that too. Oh, and hey, since it occurred to me--would "Yonatan Zunger" pass the newly revised "names must be name-shaped" ruling? Or did he automatically get a pass because he's a Google staffer (in fact, the staffer who predominantly runs Google+, but that's actually beside the point)?

Sai to Yonatan:
That reminds me: when are you going to be sending out emails to everyone previously suspended in #nymwars, telling them that it's okay to come back now?
I really, really doubt this will ever happen; there's just been too much loss of faith and increasing of paranoia and doubt. (Oh, and I should point out, in the original comment, Sai linked this; I changed it to a link that serves as a clearinghouse for longer relevant essays.)

Scott to Sai about the above comment:
Why would they come back after they way they were treated? Especially since Google is not defining the exact specific criteria that they would have to meet in order not have the door slammed in their face again.
Pretty much. Why would any of us who fled, afraid of Google-y retaliation, come back, for any reason? Especially those of us who were actually bounced under the "old" policies (which aren't that changed from the new ones, frankly)?

Especially since Google is still sounding like stuffy judgmental troglodytes in this?

And then Argent Stonecutter showed up:
This is the most common current version of the name I've been using online since 1983. I'd really rather go by just the first name in Google Plus: this last name was picked up as a result of another social platform that required me to have two names, and didn't allow me to pick my own last name, so it's kind of accidental but it's the one people are likely to recognize me as now, for the community I use it in... and I don't want to confuse things by changing my Google Mail account name.

I was using this name on Buzz, but when Google Plus launched I didn't want to risk losing access even temporarily to my Google Mail account, so I deleted this Google Profile and all my posts. I hope I'm not making a mistake now, reversing my decision.
Personally, I'd say yes, it was a mistake, but I'm a pessimist. Still, that's an excellent point--that is a pseudonym developed as a major source of personal identification for nearly thirty years now...if that's not enough to cement it as a "real" name, what the hell will be?

Adina to Yonatan:
The aspect of the new policy that is still concerning is the need to have a "following" in order to justify the use of a pseudonym. This disallows nonfamous people who are using pseudonyms for personal reasons, for example an LGBT teen in a prejudiced small town or an abuse victim. These folk may not have an established online identity with the pseudonym and a legitimate need to use the pseudonym.
I hate to get involved in the privilege wars, because from where I usually sit (being accused of one form of privilege or another), I tend to profoundly disagree with the concept. How'ver, this is a very good point, and a very good point about privilege, namely:
  • Google staffers who have never been in long-term abusive relationships plainly do not understand the need for online pseudonyms
  • Google staffers who have never been stalked also do not understand the need for pseudonyms
  • Google staffers who've never been pagan or gay in the Bible Belt, or gay or transgendered in a fundamentalist Christian (or Muslim) household, or basically, anything markedly different in their communities from what's assumed to be the local societal "norm"--just don't understand
And all of these, and more, are examples of privilege; namely, that Google staffers have it, and thus don't understand the basic reasonings behind why those without such privilege would want pseudonyms. When there's a very real risk between revealing your name online, and death, you tend to be protective of that name. People who don't run the same risks just do not understand, and possibly, cannot understand. Which may be the real tragedy at the heart of this--Google's impossible clinging to a policy which is highly likely to cause pain, suffering, and/or actual hate crimes--simply because they think loftily that it's "better" to use your "real name" for everything.

This thinking then extends to their subsequent policies, because obviously if you're using a real name, you're never going to be mean on the internet. Thus, Google's demonstrating not only delusionally flawed logic, as well as (rightful) accusations of privilege, but they are also demonstrating as a group body a terrifying amount of naïveté--because if they think that no one on the internet ever does anything out of line under their "real names", then they obviously haven't thought this through properly. We can leave the standard rank and file out of this completely--let's just talk Senators and Representatives. Even worse? Let's take it offline, where routinely Congressional members, supposedly proud, noble creatures who represent our best interests always--lie to their constituents not only via personal letters, but in person when they meet those constituents.

Or how about this:
And in all of my years of public life I have never obstructed justice.
Richard Nixon said that, rather famously. If the President of the United States cannot manage to hold himself to the law that lying is a bad thing...why in the hell is Google expecting the same to hold true for everyone else?

The flip side of that, of course, is that they're not. They're expecting the "normal" denizens of the internet to be anything but--they're putting all these blocks in place to prevent the 4channers and the kiddie-coders from coming in and "tainting" the pure waters of Google+ discourse. Except, of course, that it hasn't worked. Because remember what Yonatan Zungler said in this conversation:
So, interesting thing: when we first launched G+, we thought that people would be total bastards if they weren't tied to their own, very durable, identity. (Which was one of the drivers behind the original names policy) As we got more miles on the system, this was replaced with the concern that people are total bastards, period.
He's not wrong. There are just as many people out there who, when tied to their "own, very durable, identity" will make themselves just as unwelcome to the party as people calling themselves "SeXyByTcH", "KI11mALL", and "sexyMILF4U". There are also just as many people out there who, when tied to a pseudonym, do everything they can to at least let that name represent themselves--in or out of public.

Behavior is not automatically aligned with name. Google needs to grow up and actually realize that.

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