News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Homophobia, Piracy, and the Need for True Names


Read Richard’s current thoughts about transhumanism and related fringe topics here.

The beta of Apple OS-X Leopard provided to developers that attended WWDC has been leaked. Nicholas Deleon of CrunchGear posted [defunct link] about the upcoming operating system appearing on Oink, a private piracy site and, oh boy, are the darknet pirates angry. In their anger, they are throwing out every homophobic rant they can think of in their comments to Deleon’s post.

There remains implicit support in our society for intolerance, and teenagers and young adults have learned from their parents, peers, and politicians that it is okay to verbally abuse people they do not agree with by using language that is never appropriate. We have therefore found ourselves in a Web 2.0 world where the most common criticism in response to a post comes in the form of explicit homophobia. Combined with the fact that most comments are anonymous or made using silly usernames, this vitriol has gotten out of control.

What to do about people who hide behind their anonymity to continue pirating copyrighted content and perpetuate intolerance? We should start by removing anonymity on the Internet. To use the Internet, everyone should be required to provide their true name [defunct link].

When gaming, usernames are appropriate. People purposely create a different identity for entertainment purposes. When people conduct business, join discussions, or other activities in cyberspace, then usernames and anonymity are not appropriate. Their use indicates the user does not take full ownership of their actions and any consequences. They are cowards who pretend to fear Big Brother and a loss of privacy, but who really just want to do whatever they want without being caught, including criminal activity aimed at harming others.

One of the reason why I now use Facebook is because this social network values real identities instead of usernames and anonymous activity. You can create fake names, but a majority of people appear to be using their true names and true identities, in the spirit of staying in touch with family and friends. Compare this to activity on MySpace, blogs, and sites like Digg, where few people take ownership of their identities and become intolerant jerks in their anonymous freedom.

If content is to be valued, then the creator must stand nakedly beside his or her content. This is cybernudism, the ability to expose your true name, your true identity while interacting on the net over great distances of space and even time. To conduct yourself otherwise is to become a closeted phantom, as ephemeral and unimportant as the ghosts from superstition and pseudoscience.

When I see a silly username or “Anonymous” respond to a post, I know the person is cowardly and I respect nothing they have to say, whether the response is positive or negative. I can no longer support content piracy when the pirates choose to complain with intolerance while hiding behind masks. May they continue to gravitate toward their Morlock existence in a lower darknet that stifles innovation in its religious pursuit of cowardice. Meanwhile, those of us in cyberspace who embrace our true names, take responsibility for our actions, and learn through the consequences, will welcome the revolutions yet to come.

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