One of Gleick's more contentious assertions is that the popularity of people assuming multiple online identities (aka Heteronymity) "suggests a sort of self-loathing, on a mass scale"
I'm with Poole when he rejects this argument thus: "Many do this just for fun, but many others act pseudonymously on a point of political principle. And their motivation is precisely that anxiety about information snooping which Gleick himself so deftly shows is rooted in the reality of corporate and governmental behaviour: they really do want the power to know what we have said"
The ability of assume multiple identities gives the net an additional degree of freedom when compared to the physical world. Most pundits have clocked that the net frees users from the constraints of geography. Few have clocked that it also frees people from the constraints of having a single identity.
The right to own and manage your own Digital Identity will be one of the key battles of this decade.
This Much I Know: Digital Social Networks are truly revolutionary in their potential to improve lives; helping humans care about things together.
But for a network to become truly social, its members need to be comfortable participating in the network. Merely being connected isn't enough.
Take the UK Internet. 17m people connected to a 2-way network. Most using email. Many using IM. Some building homepages. A few blogging. It's a healthy, vibrant, participatory social network.
Digital TV in the UK? 10m+ people connected to 2-way interactive TV networks (Sky Digital, NTL, Telewest...) Result? Negligible participation. They're networks alright. They've got millions of people connected to them with return paths that are live and dangerous... and yet... and yet the vast majority of UK digital TV users remain passive consumers of broadcast media.
So what's stopping digital TV audiences forming proper social networks? Somehow these audiences don't feel motivated to use the network's return path to communicate and participate.
Maybe it's just cos the TV is just so deeply rooted as a passive device. Maybe it's because the platform owner is a broadcaster. Maybe its members just need a few hints as to the fun to be had connecting with each other.
Whatever, according to Moose Lore, this be A Bad Thing What Needs Fixing... and in the short term, the web community can look after itself (or rather, others can give it some fun new social fertilizer...)