Category Archives: Anonymity

Online counseling lends itself to desire for anonymity

“(Online counseling) teaches clients to be aware of what’s coming out of their mouths, what they’re feeling and thinking, their wholeness and whole bodies,” Mankita said. “It’s an exciting and empowering thing that we haven’t done in the past (in person) the way we can with text. Text is really powerful.” Online therapy is particularly suited to sex and relationship work, especially for clients who crave a layer of anonymity we can’t get by going through our insurance companies or driving to an office. And clients can seek matches based on compatibility rather than proximity.

Read this item from WIRED’s Regina Lynn


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Filed under Anonymity, Connection/Isolation, Identity, Technology, our Mirror, Virtual Communities

Forgive me Tim Berners-Lee, it’s been two hours since my last post

Links and commentary from MetaFilter

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Filed under Anonymity, Blogosphere, Connection/Isolation, Technology, our Mirror, Virtual Communities

‘Better’ Avatars may result in surreptitious communications

Donath notes that even seemingly simple human behaviors are accompanied by collections of body language and expressions that can reinforce or undercut the messages we intend to send. For instance, she suggests that we signal our intention to engage someone in conversation by a complex suite of gestures, mostly nonverbal: “You carry out this goal not only by walking across the room but also by making eye contact, smiling, raising your brows, adjusting your clothes—a complex set of communicative behaviors that indicate your intention to start a conversation, allow you to gauge his willingness to do so, and show your level of determination.”

Right now, even the most sophisticated avatars accomplish only a small subset of these behavioral collections. But that’s beginning to change, at least within the research community. Although putting all of the components of these behaviors under user control is viewed as too complex, Donath cites work in which entire suites of behavior could be controlled by a single command. For example, an avatar commanded to end a conversation can nod its head, wave, and break eye contact. Users of such systems found them natural and more engaging, and they found their conversation partners to be more expressive.

Although these sorts of advances may make for a more appealing virtual experience, Donath suggests that they have some disturbing implications for issues of trust and credibility when future avatars are used for communication. She notes that we interpret many behavioral collections in light of what they tell us about the person who is doing the talking. For example, we tend to view someone who doesn’t make eye contact as more likely to be lying, providing uncertain information, or simply uninterested in talking with us. A well-programmed avatar can be commanded to engage in behaviors that simulate honesty, regardless of whether the speaker is trustworthy.

Read this commentary of Judith Donath’s Virtually Trustworthy (subscription req’d) from Ars Technica

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Filed under Anonymity, Anthropotropism, Connection/Isolation, Technology, our Mirror, Virtual Communities

Wikipedia as exhibit A?

An anonymous edit to Wikipedia could provide a clue about the deaths of pro wrestler Chris Benoit, his wife and 7-year-old son. Or it could simply be random Wikipedia pranksterism by a University of Connecticut undergraduate. The changes were made to the Wikipedia article on Benoit, an internationally recognized athlete who participated in World Wrestling Entertainment, hours before police discovered the bodies in the family’s suburban Atlanta home. At 12:01 a.m. EDT Monday, the entry was changed to say he missed a championship match because of personal issues “stemming from the death of his wife Nancy.” After a Wikipedia editor rejected the change, saying a reliable source was needed to back up that claim, the entry was changed again to say Benoit’s absence “according to several pro wrestling Web sites is attributed to the passing of Benoit’s wife, Nancy.” Police found the bodies, in what they now say was a murder-suicide, around 2:30 p.m. EDT. That’s more than 14 hours after the mention of his wife’s death.

Read this item from C|Net

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Filed under Anonymity, Technology, our Mirror, Wiki

1/3rd of kids online get cyberbullied

The most common form of bullying reported by teens online involves another person publicizing a private e-mail, instant message or text message, according to a study released Wednesday from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Fifteen percent of teens surveyed said that they had experienced the embarrassment of having a private communication posted publicly online or forwarded to a third party. Other types of harassment include someone spreading a rumor or posting an embarrassing photo on the Web, as well as someone sending a threatening or aggressive e-mail, IM or text message, the report found.

Read this item from C|Net and visit the Pew Internet & American Life Project to see the report Cyberbullying and Online Teens. On topic: What constitutes cyberbullying? A case study from the trenches from Ars and MySpace, Cyberbullies, And The Law from Rogerd’s Notebook.

Previously from WNM: Are Cyberbullies criminals? and Stealing your Cybermilk Money

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Filed under Anonymity, Connection/Isolation, Same as it ever Was, Social Media, Technology, our Mirror, Virtual Communities

Yes, we’re giving up our privacy voluntarily. It’s that really so bad?

Those of us living in the west, with cheap easy access to computers and the internet and a sophisticated technological infrastructure surrounding us, are increasingly living our lives online. This is no more frightening than any other vast social change, but it will be resisted by many who see in the loss of privacy something threatening, who believe it is dangerous or dehumanising or somehow against nature. But we should never forget that we make human nature, it is not given to us, and we can therefore remake it. Our modern conception of privacy and of the nature of the individual is a product of the industrial age that is now passing, so it should not surprise us that we are finding new ways of constructing an identity online.

Read this item from the BBC

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Filed under Anonymity, Connection/Isolation, Identity, Privacy, Social Media, Technology, our Mirror, Virtual Communities, web 2.0

Google’s Web History: Your search history and the privacy you willingly give away.

Google’s latest project is called Web History, and it offers registered Google Account users a chance to peruse not just their account history with Google, but one’s surfing history…Google Web History replaces the earlier “Search History,” which only allowed users to look at previous web search queries and results. The new tool allows users to browse pretty much anything they’ve surfed on the Internet—from sites visited to downloads to search results, and also displays usage trends, showing which sites were most visited at certain times of the day. There’s even a history of which Google AdSense ads the user has clicked on.

Google says that Web History data will only be available to the user signed in with his or her Google Account. The data collected is only used to “improve your search experience” and Google promises that this data will not be made available to third parties except in aggregate form or to comply with legal processes, as per their existing privacy policy. As such, the existence of Google Web History does not change anything in terms of what information Google is collecting from its Toolbar users. Indeed, any web site on the Internet can collect usage information from its visitors by the use of cookies and IP tracking.

Read this item from Ars Technica, explore the concerns of privacy advocates and catch commentary from C|Net’s Margaret Kane. Also, YouTube wants in to the user-data payday.

Previously from WNM: Online Data Risks: Loss, and loss of privacy, The cost of “free,” and The currency of new media is information, but is the marketplace of exchange privacy?


Filed under Anonymity, Business 2.0, Privacy, Technology, our Mirror