1993-10-27 - ANON: why pseudonyms

Header Data

From: Karl Lui Barrus <klbarrus@owlnet.rice.edu>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: e0f26cd0b368fe40effd73da0cb376aa5e31a1aaee98997c90eed6651d611e96
Message ID: <9310271516.AA16178@elf.owlnet.rice.edu>
Reply To: <Pine.3.87.9310261117.A18829-0100000@crl.crl.com>
UTC Datetime: 1993-10-27 15:17:53 UTC
Raw Date: Wed, 27 Oct 93 08:17:53 PDT

Raw message

From: Karl Lui Barrus <klbarrus@owlnet.rice.edu>
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 93 08:17:53 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: ANON: why pseudonyms
In-Reply-To: <Pine.3.87.9310261117.A18829-0100000@crl.crl.com>
Message-ID: <9310271516.AA16178@elf.owlnet.rice.edu>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Arthur Chandler wrote:

>   Isn't it tough enough to build up a rep under our real names? What is 
>the point to using a pseudonym? I can think of some bad reasons; but I 
>can't come up with any good ones, except for "fun" and "just to see what 
>it feels like to put out opinions not my own."  I'm sure I'm missing the 
>point; so, before you jump on me as a Clueless Newbie, can you run by 
>the reasons why you want to have alternate personas on the NET?

It's not a dumb questions, and it comes up from time to time.  In
fact, this was the subject of a lengthy war on news.admin.policy a
while ago.

You could use a pseudonym anytime you don't want to be linked to an
opinion.  Maybe you don't want to be known as the author of a post to
alt.sex about whether you shower with your spouse; maybe you feel less
embarrassed asking questions like Wonderer; perhaps you want to engage
in a serious debate over touchy political issues; etc.  In these
examples, you would be putting out opinions that are your own - you
just want the freedom of speaking without fearing retribution or

After all, you may irritate someone who decides to cause you harm.
This won't ever happen, you say?  Maybe, but here's an example: Salmon
Rushdie, author of the "Satanic Verses" is still living in fear of his

You can whistle-blow.  Some months ago a local paper ran a series of
articles on people who had the careers and lives destroyed by the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, because they reported various unsafe
practices and violations at their workplace.

Small examples of anonymity are in our life already: most radio shows
don't broadcast your last name, papers will withhold names from
editorial pieces sent them, police departments take anonymous tips.
The protection a pseudonym affords is more powerful.

Karl L. Barrus: klbarrus@owlnet.rice.edu         
keyID: 5AD633 hash: D1 59 9D 48 72 E9 19 D5  3D F3 93 7E 81 B5 CC 32 

"One man's mnemonic is another man's cryptography" 
  - my compilers prof discussing file naming in public directories