Thursday, October 25, 2007

On the Internet Everyone Knows You're a Gnome

There is an old saying that goes, “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” It works on a number of levels and addresses anonymity, aliases, virtual characters and the secret lives of canines whose owners leave their computers logged on.

The web allows for us to create extensions of ourselves that to some can be as real as any other individual, or gnome, that they might meet. Few are immune to the call of character creation, and most people already have multiple email addresses which they imbue with different tones and activities depending on the situation.

It’s already a time honored tradition in the print business. Advice column by committee with a figurehead is one example. The Weekly Volcano has printed guises of Bobble Tiki, Natasha and the like. In the online World we have a multitude of posters under pseudonyms, and a great discussion on the Exit133 forum about use of real names when posting.

So it only makes sense that characters real and surreal co-exist in the blogging world. Is it the real Steve Jobs or the fake Blogging Steve Jobs? Check out the Secret Diary of Steve Jobs for a laugh. ("Dude, I invented the friggin iPhone. Have you heard of it?") Or like Victor/Victoria, the story of a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman, it may be Steve pretending to be someone else pretending to be Steve. (It’s not; it’s Daniel Lyons of Forbes).

But anonymity has many levels and many uses. I had two recent visitors to the Living and Working Class who bare this out.

TacomaChickadee is a frequent blogger, and author of Tickle Me Tacoma. She is a writer in the real world, works in the South Sound and is a fine individual. On her blog, she freely writes about the things she enjoys about Tacoma and life in general. However, you may notice that her site does not betray a great deal of personal information within the posts or the profile and she likes it that way. It is an excellent outlet for her love of writing and it also allows her to keep her working life separate.

On the other hand, I had assumed that the TacomaGnome was an alias and looked forward to meeting the blogger behind the garden décor. Instead I was treated to a genial Norwegian Garden Gnome whose relatives live all over the world but who himself has chosen to discover Tacoma.

Whereas I thought he might speak to the class about living online as a personality, instead the pleasure was in learning how easy it was to communicate to all of his Gnome friends and family around the world through his blog. He has visited the Tacoma Dome, the Murano, UrbanXchange, Savi Day Spa and other locales.

His trip has been a pleasure thus far, and he has garnered attention from the bloggers at Grit City, Exit133 and Mark Briggs online in the South Sound.

A thanks to him for stopping off at the UWT.


Tacoma Gnome said...

Mr. Fry,
It was certainly a pleasure to stop by.

My wife got a kick out of the fact that ME, a little Norwegian Gnome was in a University class taking questions and giving answers.

Thank you.

Until Next Time,

Amanda said...

What an interesting post (and blog). I never make a conscious effort to decide between using an alias or my real name. It just happens. My parents constantly warn me about sharing too much of myself on the internet but sometimes, I find it hard to publish a post without being too personal.....

Hopefully you have seen the press release from the EDB about Infoblox renewing its lease in Tacoma for another six years. Growing from sixty...