And while I believe both of these decisions (no usernames, only real names) were made with good intentions and an honest desire to create a better community experience, the combination results in a few sticky wickets:

  1. The member’s real name has to hold the entirety of their identity. So if someone only knows me as “fraying” I may be difficult to find, and I may not feel that my profile really represents me.
  2. The real name you enter into your Plus profile isn’t just used for Plus – it’s used for all of Google’s services. Change your name to “Bob” in your Plus profile, and then send a mail from Gmail, and it will go out from Bob. This is very confusing for people who are used to maintaining different names in different places, and it places additional pressure on Plus.
  3. If, for whatever reason, I am someone that cannot use my real name online, it means I cannot use Plus at all. If I do, I might accidentally reveal my name when I didn’t mean to. And if I use a fake name, I could get my account yanked.

I don’t agree with this entire article, but I figured I’d post another perspective on the issue, after the blog post I shared last week.

What I think you’ll find is that we have different expectations for the publicness and persistence of a statement depending on a variety of factors. There is a continuum of publicness and persistence and anonymity. But in real life, we expect very few statements to be public, persistent, and attached to your real identity. Basically, only people talking on television or to the media can expect such treatment. And even then, the vast majority of their statements don’t become part of the searchable Internet.

It is the reason why lists of who is harmed by a real names policy are teeming with people who belong to some sort of minority, espouse a locally unpopular belief, or are already vulnerable for other reasons: lesbian and gay teenagers; women who have experienced stalking or violence; members of minority religions; dissidents. The reason they most need a pseudonym to engage with their communities is the reason they are most threatened — truly, physically and economically and psychologically, in the real world, threatened — if pseudonyms are not allowed.

There’s a lot more to this post than just the pullquote.  I definitely recommend checking it out.

(via LISNews)

The Facebook birthday greeting has become a symbol of all that is irritating about the social network. Every April 11 or June 7 or Sept. 28, your Facebook account suddenly chatters with exclamation-point-polluted birthday wishes. If you are a typical Facebook user, these greetings come mainly from your nonfriend friends—that group of Facebook “friends” who don’t intersect with your actual friends. The wishes have all the true sentiment of a Christmas card from your bank. The barrage of messages isn’t unpleasant, exactly, but it’s all too obvious that the greetings are programmed, canned, and impersonal, prompted by a Facebook alert. If, as Facebook haters claim, the social network alienates us from genuine friendship, the Facebook birthday greeting is the ultimate example of its fakery. So I decided that if Facebook was going to bombard me with fake birthday wishes, I was going to bombard Facebook with fake birthdays.

Man, I want to post this article to my Facebook account.