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Daniel Beaver-Seitz
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Overall, I'm liking the G+ redesign, but having half the screen below-the-fold as just uninterrupted white space feels like a mistake.

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There's a wonderful ironic symmetry to the new attempts by the entertainment industry to bypass the courts and shutdown domain and payment systems on the basis of a corporate complaint.

At the same time they claim that copying their virtual goods is equivalent to theft of their physical goods, they are claiming that shitting down your ecommerce, web shops, and virtual homes is not the same as theft of your physical business, credit cards and house.

If a music file deserves legal protection (and I believe it does), then so does my domain. The current legal system protects both. The entertainment industry wants to bypass that system because they believe their livelihood is more important than yours.

They don't care if in the process they create a chaos of extra-legal attacks in which anyone with money and a lawyer can shut down a business. This is an industry that is so bonded to Congress that the address to which royalty checks are sent is enshrined in law. They've been solving their problems using Congress since they were first threatened by piano rolls—it's the only way they know how to do business.

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"Bizarre" seems like less the right word than "awesome."

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I think this is what the youths recently stopped calling "mad skillz." Astounding to the point where it occasionally looks like special effects (but I don't think it is).

Back from a social media vacation, and it was a fine, fine thing.

I keep seeing comments that are some variation of "man, if there are this many stupid comments on here now, imagine what it will be like when G+ is out of limited beta and anyone can be on here."

Strangely, I have yet to see anyone say "man, all these comments really drive home the fact that tech people don't have it together any more than anyone else."

It's About the Right to Invention of Identity

In the Great Pseudonymity Debates of 2011, the use case that gets the most attention is that of the activist or other individual whose life would be imperiled if their true identity were known. It's a nice and sympathetic use case—I have no interest in seeing activists detained or abuse victim stalked—but it misses the larger issue: the right to construct ones own identity.

As someone said (yesterday, but I can't remember who), water wets and data leaks. A person who considers a pseudonym to be protection against an oppressor needs to know the limitations of that protection and needs to know it quickly. Even if data doesn't leak, a persistant identity can create a public trail leading to a person very quickly. Pseudonymy provides some degree of protection, and if great care is taken and the oppressor lacks sufficient technical resources, that protection can be significant, but if a person acts as though they're given a free pass, the consequences could be disastrous.

So to me, at least, the question of pseudonyms is not about protecting the oppressed, lofty a goal as that may be, but about something more fundamental. Perhaps there is a regional difference, or a difference associated with some identities, but I see much greater use of pseudonyms and nicknames-incorporated-into-legal-names on Facebook amongst my New York friends and acquaintances (who tend to be more cis queer) than amongst my North Carolina friends (who tend to be more cis straight).* Notably, despite Facebook's anti-pseudonym policy, no one I know personally has ever had a problem with their account related to this policy, even at the height of the fad of adding "Equality" as a middle name to signify support for gay rights.

The reasons for adopting pseudonyms amongst my friends and acquaintances, none of whom in NY are avoiding oppression or abusers, is diverse. For some, it is because they want to avoid the flock of friend requests from people they haven't seen since high school; for others, the nickname is how they are universally known and to use their legal name would be to render them significantly harder to find (not less, as many people seem to think). For others, this is just who they are now. New York's population of domestic and international immigrants has always placed a high premium on reinvention of identity, since so many are fresh off the boat (even if that boat came from Iowa).

Especially in an age when anyone's electronic history can be accessed with a fast web search, an age that Google largely created, reinvention of self can be difficult without the use of a pseudonym, even if the intent is never to fool another person into thinking that is the person's "real" name. The stakes in this use case might be lower than for the abuse victim, but that does not diminish the importance of being able to reinvent identity for many people.

*Which is to say that this is not a question whose application to sexual identity is limited to people who are trans, another use case that gets mentioned often.

With huge thanks to +Jillian C. York and +Edouard Ravel, both of whom have helped clarify my thinking on this issue.

The word "rare" should never be used to describe a video on YouTube unless prefaced by the word "previously." The moment something can be viewed from anywhere on the planet with an Internet connection, it's not rare.

+danah boyd is encircled* by 50% more people on here than Britney Spears. Either the nature of celebrity has changed dramatically for the better, or the Google+ user base is heavily skewed. One guess which explanation I'd bet on. :-)

*Has anyone come up with a local equivalent for "followed"?
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