Charlie Stross on ‘true naming’ – and Google+

I hadn’t really considered the full implications of Google+’s “true naming” policy, but Charlie has the issues mapped out perfectly here.

To start with, as Patrick McKenzie pointed out in his blog last year (before all this blew up), programmers almost always get name handling wrong because there is no universal format for a human name.

Charlie goes on to point out a whole bunch of other reasons why this is a problem for Google and it’ll be interesting to see how they resolve it. The anti-cultural bias of the ‘True Name’ policy is very unlike Google, despite the (admirable?) goal of keeping the social network honest. But as Charlie points out:

Google are wrong about the root cause of online trolling and other forms of sociopathic behaviour. It’s nothing to do with anonymity. Rather, it’s to do with the evanescence of online identity. People who have long term online identities (regardless of whether they’re pseudonymous or not) tend to protect their reputations. Trolls, in contrast, use throw-away identities because it’s not a real identity to them: it’s a sock puppet they wave in the face of their victim to torment them.

It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out… although of course, I’m still not quite using Google+ yet. It needs events, and more people I actually know, as opposed to randoms with no profile adding me, possibly expecting reciprocity.

As an aside, I’m still reading Charlie’s Rule 34 – took a break from novels to catch up on some DCU comics – and it continues to be awesome. Charlie’s mentioned a few AR overlays, a lot of tablets, a few 3D ‘fabbers’,  but no social networks yet – maybe, in the near future, we all forget our logins…