Thursday, October 21, 2004

SC pulls back the curtain

Semantic Compositions has decided to reveal his identity in the coming week. Since SC and I are friends who started blogging at the same time, readers of this blog might wonder if a similar change is in the works here at Rhosgobel.

I write under a pseudonym primarily so people who know me by name cannot simply google me and discover this blog. I have always written with the mindset that if readers of my work were curious enough they could find out who I was, and that this was not a problem. In fact, if the opportunity arises I'd like to meet select readers of this blog, and will happily share my identity with them then when I do.

So why write anonymously?
  • Privacy for the students in my classes: While I always attempt to remove any possible identifying information, by writing anonymously I ensure that students' privacy is maintained.

  • More freedom to explore topics: I'm current untenured, but I want to be free to write about how I believe teaching should be done, to freely evaluate my own teaching, and to talk about opinions I hold in other areas, without fear of reprisal from my evaluation committee. I know that everything I write is public and permanent, and thus I generally try to write so that I will not regret anything if I do become non-anonymous, but it is still freeing to know that my colleagues and students won't be reading this tomorrow morning. I want to be Radagast here on this site, not Prof. Radagast.

  • Personal privacy and security: While I don't write about my deepest feelings here on this blog, I do write about what I'm doing on a daily basis, and what I plan to be doing. This is information that could easily be used for illicit purposes, and thus I'd rather not have disgruntled students or anyone else with a grudge discovering that I'm out of the country for three weeks, right next to a picture of the front of my house.

  • Starting up worries: A major reason for anonymity when I was starting up was best described by bsag at But She's a Girl, "If I crashed and burned spectacularly, no lasting harm would be done."

  • And, finally, I like knowing that I stand or fall based on my words and images alone, not my off-web reputation.

At times I feel like I'm one of the few anonymous academic bloggers who doesn't fit into the "disgruntled academic" category (though I know there are others of us out there).

A still largely unanswered question in my mind is what I will (or should) do if a colleague or student independently finds this blog and then asks me if I am the author. Since anonymity is not a crucial factor in this blog (I've found that the majority of the topics I explore are neither helped nor hurt by anonymity), I am tempted to simply confirm that I am the author, yet doing so would obviously blow my anonymity and prevent me from writing about some topics. It is a situation that has not arisen yet, and one that I am not sure how I will deal with.

This isn't to say that I will never draw back the curtain. Sometime in the future maintaining my anonymity may become more of a burden than it is worth, but, at least for now, I'm quite happy to pull the levers from behind the safety of my curtain.

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