Monday, April 27, 2009

When anonymity is a virtue

Before you read this post, there are two other posts you may want to read.

First, read Jake Kuramoto's April 23 post about anonymous commenting, which begins by briefly touching upon Jake's view on online anonymity in general:

If you read here, you probably know I’m against anonymous commenting and generally against anonymity online.

If you know me IRL, you’ll understand this is part of who I am.

To call me direct is accurate, if not an understatement in many cases. I’m blunt and unedited and not very good at pretending. I learned long ago that even when I don’t speak, my face speaks for me. So, I figured why not add words to it.

Second, read the first of my two April 26 posts on Flannel and NOOMA, which notes that Flannel's website doesn't explicitly identify the folks behind Flannel. I wondered why:

Perhaps this attempt to focus on Jesus Christ rather than the messengers. Perhaps this is an attempt to boost the Flannel and NOOMA brands. Perhaps it' marketing ploy.

After I wrote that post, I was thinking that I might want to find a company which makes a virtue out of lack of disclosure. In other words, a company that went against the grain of many social media experts who loudly assert that disclosure is paramount, and that people want to deal with known people rather than anonymous "customer service" types. Inspector 7 belongs on our t-shirts, not our computer monitors.

Or maybe not. Later on Sunday, I ran across this New York Times article: connects its users with random, anonymous strangers for a private, real-time chat. The site, which started last month, was developed by Leif K-Brooks, an 18-year-old amateur Web programmer and high school student in Vermont who was worried that people’s Web interactions had “become stagnant.”

“You can’t learn anything from someone exactly like you,” said Mr. K-Brooks. “The goal was to create a new kind of association: anonymous interaction with a stranger that complements existing social sites and helps people broaden their horizons.”

Now I'll grant that Omegle deals with a different set of needs - you're not going to buy a video, or a car, or an IRL sexual encounter from someone on Omegle. But at the same time that Facebook won't let the "Ontario Emperors" of the world onto their services, you're going to have Omegles that will cater to the needs of those who don't want to be known.
blog comments powered by Disqus