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Greg Park
Works at Carnegie Mellon University
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Greg Park

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Well, that's not the kind of news I was hoping to read today.

RIP, Terry Pratchett.  Thank you for all of your wonderful works.
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Greg Park

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This week is Spring Carnival here at CMU, during which they use half of my usual parking lot for carnival rides and things, so I end up parking in the garage on the far side of campus from my building and walking through the campus to get to work. On my way in today, I saw chalked announcements about a sporting event happening this weekend.

I had previously seen an article about the existence of this sport, but I was not aware how large it has grown, nor that both CMU and Pitt have teams. (In fact, Pitt is currently ranked #12 in the league).

http://www.internationalquidditch.org/

And what amused me even more was this line from the website: "Adapted by Middlebury College students in 2005, Quidditch is now played at over 300 universities and high schools in the United States and 12 other countries."

Yeah... having friends from Middlebury... that doesn't surprise me. :)
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Greg Park

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I think this is perhaps the coolest Halloween costume I've ever seen. It doesn't hurt that I'm a big fan of the movie, but regardless, a lot of care and ingenuity went into this outfit. (The fact that the wearer is three makes it cute, too.)
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Greg Park

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I thought this was rather well-written and accurate.
Shasta Willson originally shared:
 
Hey +Jon Pincus You might find this one interesting... #nymwars
Secrets of Nym… Filed under: Feature,General Musings,Politics,Writing and Publishing — jaxworx @ 4:49 PM. I'm gonna miss my Google+ account when they take it away from me, as must surely happen an...
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Greg Park

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I know I shouldn't be surprised, since we all know the whole point of this venture is for Google to collect more data on us. I guess I'm just surprised he was so blunt about it. And it pushes me further towards the door.
Andy Carvin originally shared:
 
I'm at the Edinburgh Intl TV Festival and just got to ask a question to Google CEO Eric Schmidt regarding real names on G+. I asked him how Google justifies the policy given that real identities could put people at risk?

He replied by saying that G+ was build primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they're going to build future products that leverage that information.

Regarding people who are concerned about their safety, he said G+ is completely optional. No one is forcing you to use it. It's obvious for people at risk if they use their real names, they shouldn't use G+. Regarding countries like Iran and Syria, people there have no expectation of privacy anyway due to their government's own policies, which implies there's no point of even trying to have a service that allows pseudonyms.

He also said the internet would be better if we knew you were a real person rather than a dog or a fake person. Some people are just evil and we should be able to ID them and rank them downward.

Comments?
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Greg Park

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While Google is still attempting to force people to use their 'real name', other institutions are finding ways to let people use "preferred names".

"Carnegie Mellon University recognizes that students may wish to use a name other than their given names as recorded on official university documents. When designated by a student, the university will use a preferred first/given name in all university documents except where use of the official name is required by university business or legal need."
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My university does this because we have a high trans population
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Greg Park

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This is a very well-said post about how the "real names" policy is affecting someone, personally.
Evan Peterson originally shared:
 
My Nym Manifesto


Dear Google,

How to even describe how cool it was to get my Google+ invite so early into the beta test. For the first time ever I got to be one of the cool kids and play with one of the cool new things before anyone else did. I felt like a king dangling my precious G+ invites before my friends’ noses.

Google+ has almost everything I want in a social network; from the outset it filled all of my needs: Twitter length vapid banality, super casual Facebook-like interactions, an innovative new way of blogging where, on a post-by-post basis I could control who could or could not read my posts.

Though few of my real or Facebook friends have yet to rush here and join me, I’ve discovered a community with far greater engagement in actual discourse than I had in previous social networks. Google+ was the Shangri-La of online discourse and while a far smaller number of people currently follow me here than in my other places, a much larger number of those people interact with me and each other in an exchange of ideas far superior to those other places.

That is why it hurts me when I read anyone at Google or allied with your fascistic “real names policy” suggest that someone who doesn’t like it can freely use other services to fit their needs--because those other services no longer fit our needs. And worse, lack of abiding this policy does not deny us just Google+, so don’t pretend at being benevolent.

These are however the beginnings of debate points you’re already highly inundated with and aware of and I’m not writing this to engage you in debate or talk about the injustices your policy serves to other people. I’ll leave you back to re-reading them and re-engaging with them. Dearest Google, I would rather share exactly what your policies do to me specifically, and why they make me so angry with you.

You gave me the partial reality of privacy with your Circles feature. With that I could freely have a circle for subjects that may not be as palatable to everyone in my complete set of circles. I could band all of my Star Wars fanatics together and gush over pictures of slavegirl Leia costumes all day every day without ever once having to worry about my more Jesus minded relatives or acquaintances ever being the wiser. But this form of privacy only works to that end--to the end of exclusion, and so there are really only a limited number of reasons to really engage Circles in this way (and frankly, the most frequent way I’ve seen them used (not by me) is to violate your terms of service via the distribution of pornographic images). Your Circles actually ultimately silence me or censor me as much as not having the option did before. I am annoyed with that. But I’m not even here to talk with you about what simply annoys me about you Google.

I share a name and home state with a man who sexually molested many children. Your anti-pseudonym policy as it is currently implemented harms me. Operating without a pseudonym opens me up to be wrongfully harassed by the victims and families of these victims when they publicly search his name and end up finding me.

Fuck you for that.

And while I’m on the topic, my own son was also a victim of sexual molestation. Because of your policy, when his abuser leaves prison he can find us again via my name and put my child and myself at real risk of repeated assault. The loss of freedom to be pseudonymous in the best network for social interaction puts us in danger should this monster decide he wants to be vindictive towards his victim for sending him to prison.

Fuck you for that.

I live in a nation that unlawfully detains its citizens, investigates people who dare publicly question their government, racially profiles its citizens and blacklists them from public transit based solely on their names as well as any number of other violations of our civil rights and your policy forbids me from educating others to these atrocities from the safety of pseudonymity.

Fuck you for that.

I am a member of the LGBTQQA community and live in a very conservative city. This alone subjects my children to the possibility of harassment (completely ignoring the possibility of my own potential harassment or physical endangerment) at the hands of close minded and bigoted peers, educators, employers, etc. The more I dare write about anything sex-positive or related to the gay community, the greater the chance of my exposure and this potential for harassment. This makes my only safe option under your policy self-censorship: speak publicly or not at all.

Fuck you for that.

I am a cancer survivor. I have been free and healthy for almost seven years now. The story of my illness and overcoming it has been valuable to so many others; it has inspired others to fight their own illnesses. Your real names policy leaves me exposed to the reality that publicly discussing my cancer history puts me at risk when I want to attract new insurance providers and makes me unattractive to potential new employers. I must either be silent or risk my own livelihood.

Fuck you for that.

There was a short time of my life where I used illegal substances, and a far greater time now that I have been clean. I now like to educate others on the dangers they expose themselves to through these activities and am a more engaging voice to these discussions because of my personal history. Your real names policy leaves me exposed to the reality that publicly discussing my former drug use puts me at risk when I want to attract new insurance providers and makes me unattractive to potential new employers. I must either be silent or risk my own livelihood.

Fuck you for that.

You have created the greatest tool I have yet to encounter for online discourse. You have simultaneously silenced me. You tell me I am free to take my voice somewhere else, somewhere that allows people like me but nowhere else is as good as this place is for fitting my needs. I can stay and choose to risk myself and my children, or not talk about anything that is in some way important to me while operating under my “real” name. Sure, there are other things to talk about, but I don’t want to talk about those things. I don’t give enough of a damn about Apple or Androids, about sharing cat videos and patting every other tech geek on Google+ on the back. I want to talk about the things I want to talk about, as do so many others.

My name is me. It is mine to give as I so choose and how dare you, how dare you, tell me whether my name is acceptable or not. You are not the aesthetics police, Google. I hate the fucking polo shirt I see in every other Googler’s profile but I don’t tell you that you can’t wear the facade you choose. So stay the fuck away from mine.

Dearest Google, you are breaking your word to me, to all of us. You are being evil. You have joined the Dark Side and if you come back I will forgive you. I love you, but I’m an abuse survivor and I know I deserve better than this from you.

No one gave you the right to define me.
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Every one of my points is valid and true personal stories of how this policy personally effects me. If anyone doesn't believe it and wants to question me further, I always welcome diiscussion. I just ask that you at least have an open mind to the possibility one person can live a life even fuller than this and not accuse them of being a hoax without even researching or saying as much to them. Thank you to all who have read and re-shared. 
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Greg Park

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Something that I think Ferguson began to bring to people's attention but then has been swept under the carpet - the militarization of police forces.

http://thefreethoughtproject.com/military-hardware-local-pd-stockpiling-database-show-you
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Greg Park

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Hehe. Nothing like a little hypocrisy to brighten the day!
Jes Wulfsberg Nielsen originally shared:
 
So I see Zuckerberg is doing the round at campuses.
I happen to know that "at Facebook's request the talk will not be webcast or recorded".

I urge as many people as possible to bring recording/broadcasting equipment, and ask Zuckerberg to opt out of each, possibly by filling out a convoluted form. –And then ask again with a different form somewhere along the way.

Remember, this is all for Mark Zuckerberg's best. Not wanting to be broadcast on the net is, after all, a lack of integrity, and we cannot have that, can we?
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Greg Park

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I'm firmly in the "I'll believe it when I see it" camp.
Meirav M. originally shared:
 
the G+ Names Policy - why I am not even cautiously optimistic

The more I read and think about this, the more I think this is not a real reason for hope.

Vic Gundotra said that they plan to support pseudonyms in the future. When I first read that, I thought it sounded positive - I guess that's because it came after a long period of hearing nothing from Google about this issue except for those very negative comments from Schmidt a while back. Compared to what Schmidt said, this sounded good.

But saying they plan to support pseudonyms in future is not new, it's the same as what Bradley Horowitz said back in July, and what have we seen since then? We have seen continuing suspension of people's profiles for various violations of the existing policy, we have seen this going on for months despite all the negative reactions they're getting, and I look at this behaviour and think: surely if they intend to support pseudonyms in future, what's stopping them from doing it right now? what was stopping them from doing it back in July? Whenever I've heard official Google responses to that question, they've talked about wanting to get it right - so what do they mean? There's nothing very complicated about simply stopping the suspensions and allowing people to use the name they choose to use - so what could be holding this up? The only reason I can imagine for this is if what they plan is not to allow people to use the name they choose, but rather, to add some kind of pseudonym layer to the existing set-up, with the user having to provide Google with his real name and trust Google not to display it. That is a set-up that would indeed require a lot of work to get it right and to make sure that this information doesn't leak.

I realise that there are people out there who would be fine with that. Those who want to use pseudonyms not for security reasons but for the purpose of being recognised - like people who have been blogging for years under a pen name (or maybe we should call it a keyboard name? ;) ) and want to use that name here for continuity, because their readers don't know them by the name they use offline - but for those of us who have safety reasons for using a name other than the one we are known by offline, no, this would really not be helpful.

Now, some will say: why should you be able to use whatever name you like, you could then abuse it, you could do all sorts of trolling or spamming or whatever bad behaviour and then shut down that account and set up another one in a different name and... Newsflash: you already can do that. You can set up an account in a name like John Smith and nobody will question whether or not that is your real name. Pseudonyms de facto already exist here, just unofficially. And there's no way that Google can check each and every user to see that they are really using the name they are known by. Even if they were to demand proof of ID from each person, there is nothing stopping people from emailing photoshopped ID.

Trolls and spammers and generally unpleasant people will be found wherever people gather on the internet. A good social networking platform will have a good, robust set-up for catching/reporting people who behave in a way that isn't appropriate - no matter what name they choose to use.
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Greg Park

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In response to the recent kerfuffle about the girl who dumped a guy because he was a world-class Magic the Gathering player, author and game designer Monica Valentinelli is countering negativity with positivity.

"Sometime during the week of Monday, September 12th to Friday, September 16th post about what geeky hobby you love. Then, tell us why we should try it, too. Leave your fears (and edition wars) at the door. Forget about your latest rant. Tap into that well of positive energy and share in the excitement of all things geek.

Let us invite those who would stereotype us to sit at our table and share our interests. Let us combat being used as pawns for internet gaffes with the reasons why we’re awesome, why we love what we love, and why it’s good to be a geek."
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An interesting (and somewhat long) article on the imminent collapse of the USPS.
Delivery of first-class mail is falling at a staggering rate. Facing insolvency, can the USPS reinvent itself like European services have—or will it implode?.
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Well, I tell ya, if they go by our current letter carrier, they're gonna implode. He's horrible. I want our old one back.
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  • Carnegie Mellon University
    Unix Systems Administrator, 1999 - present
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