Lots of people have been writing about real names/fake names and identity on Google+. I've been ignoring these discussions for the most part. Honestly, I didn't care too much. +Jeremiah Owyang conducted a poll on his G+ page that showed about 70% of G+ users either don't care, or are fine with real names only.

Maybe you're in that 70%? If so, I'd suggest you take the time to read this post: http://bit.ly/oCx1ih by +danah boyd

Danah makes a compelling case for why we should care, and why those of us who favored real names might be wrong.

Real names were one of the reasons Facebook won out over MySpace. Not only did real names make it easier to find your friends, but it also made Facebook feel more "grownup" when the world was still getting used to the idea that social networking wasn't just for nerds, nuts, bloggers, musicians, filmmakers, artists, creative weirdos of other sorts & types and teenagers.

If Google decides to allow the psuedonymity that people are asking for, they'll need to keep in mind that allowing users to change names (as I did at MySpace), creates all kinds of problems. Users loved the flexibility and fun of changing their name to express their moods, but not being able to find your friends by typing in a name created all kinds of horrible UI issues (especially on phones!).

Real names also help to diminish online hostility, as +Danny Sullivan argued in response to +danah boyd yesterday http://bit.ly/q01h9F, and encourages people to act with a little more civility than they sometimes do online. Or as +Anil Dash points out a few weeks ago, you need persistent identity to cut down on cough jerks: http://bit.ly/pk0XAw +danah boyd wrote another post this morning where she talks about how to design for the behavior you want: http://bit.ly/mQw4Hg

I met Danah when MySpace was first taking off and she showed up sniffing for info, but I actually knew of her long before when I sat in on several of her lectures as an undergrad at UC Berkeley (she was a grad student then). She's kinda an expert on a lot things, including the way people use social networks. I suggest you circle her.

Besides being fun to talk to, sharp as a tack, and dedicated enough to do actual research before she spouts opinions, +danah boyd has always impressed me most for one reason: she's passionate about the plight of others, and the political import of her (and our) actions. I wish I had that same sense of empathy.

Like Princess Leia who fought to free others from an oppressive environment, Danah is one of my heroes.

Of course it would take someone like danah to wake me up to this issue on G+ that I thought I already understood. And of course I expect Danah to tell me my reading of Princess Leia is misguided and she is not a heroic figure. :-)
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