Tuesday, April 12, 2005

To be (anonymous) or not to be: that is the question

Two days ago, I commented in GadgetDude's post why I chose not to remain anonymous when blogging. Then technewb (who chose not to reveal his Blogger profile) replied that it's better to be cautious and that "you don't know who's reading your blogs".

I'd still say the answer to the question really depends on (1) our motivations for blogging, and (2) our personality type.

I explained about my experiment with anonymity and found it cramped my style. Besides, I also blog to establish a "voice" for the librarian -- NOT that I speak for librarians in Singapore. But hey, how many librarians you know are blogging? Do you know what librarians do or think about? You get my point... So I don't think I'll achieve credibility beyond a certain point by staying anonymous.

"Who reading your blog?" -- or rather, "Is my boss/ friend/ potential client reading my blog?"

I don't think that's the real question. The question is really, "What should I write, or not write, knowing that anyone can read my blog?"

If the above points don't convince you, then consider this -- look at the better blogs out there, and bloggers who achieve respectability in their fields. How many hide behind anonymity?


  1. I tend to agree with you--so much depends on what exactly is it that the blogger aims to achieve. In some case, he absolutely should seek to be anonymous (includes anonymizing the IP address and all that), if he or she is prudent. For example: griping about one's bosses.

    In other case, the point of the blog is either indifferent to whether the blogger stays anonymous or not, or perhaps even mildly incompatible with anonymity.

    Incidentally: it's actually not all that easy to blog anonymously (see this). Unless the blogger goes to some length to cover his or her tracks, if the powers that be really want to track someone down, it's usually not impossible--or so I have been led to believe anyway.

  2. I agree that blogs don't have to be anonymous, nor even have to be about personal life. There are many kinds of blogs, including political and academic-related like yours and mine. Especially for academic and technological blogs, such are good for career building where readers and employers might see you as an expert in your field. I wrote a piece about this at http://theory.isthereason.com/?p=60

  3. It's freedom of choice. The motivation behind blogging may play a role in deciding whether to blog anonymously or no. There are people who started blogging not knowing what to write or how to establish a personal voice, so they started out anonymous. As they mature in blogosphere, they may become more comfortable in revealing their identity and link that to their personal voice, or they might find it more convenient to blog anonymously and continue to do so.

    Perhaps, I should also highlight that some Asian bloggers are still rather shy about sharing intimate thoughts about their lives. They want to create a personal voice in their blogs which may include penning down personal thoughts which they usually do not share in public. However, they are more comfortable writing about it than talking about it; and the last thing they want is having colleagues posting their comments verbally at the pantry...

    It isn't necessarily right to link blogging anonymously to = the blogger wants to bitch or gripe about other people. There are many many bloggers out there who blog anonymously but don't do that. If they were "bitching", it was all done with a good dose of humour. Similarly, I also wouldn't generalize and say that bloggers who reveal their identities are out to impress their bosses or trying to establish themselves as experts in their fields, and I agree with Kevin that it's fine if some blogging need not be about personal life.

    In the end, everybody is different. My own personal emphasis about blogging is not so much about identity or anonymity, but rather the authenticity of the content. Regardless of whether the person is blogging anonymously or with an identity, the blogger should be true to his/her contents. If the motivation for blogging is to impress certain people, then I suspect the blogger will also find it very hard to keep the blog going with "forced" content that is carefully worded and designed to create an image which he/she is not. The allure of reading someone else's blog is like knowing another person and people are interested to know the blogger as a "person" - someone with soul and thoughts. The human instinct will be able to pick up pretensions very easily, even in blogosphere.

  4. I've always been fairly open with my blog, although this is partly because I was growing up as it grew with me, and it primarily started out as a trendwhore daily journaling thing. Now that I'm (slightly) more inclined to post opinion and commentary than "what I did today" (although that still occurs) I've begun to think about the very issues you've mentioned. Certainly more so because of issues of blogging and privacy in the US, and even in Singapore recently.

    I have reached no concrete conclusion yet, but my stance so far remains largely unchanged: transparency in my life can only be a good thing, for the most part.

    An interesting article to read about internet privacy: http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,65895,00.html

  5. I agree. I considered making my blog anonymous, but knew that from what I blogged or wanted to blog, people would find out anyway so - what the heck.


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