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What’s In A Name?

December 2, 2012

So take me back to Constantinople

No, you can’t go back to Constantinople

Been a long time gone, Constantinople

Why did Constantinople get the works?

That’s nobody’s business but the Turks

There’s been a lot of talk this week about people on Twitter “hiding” behind pseudonyms. The theory is that the content of the tweets or blogs is blunted by the lack of transparency from the author. This is an understandable stance from fans of a sport that have been lied to so many times, who hold a belief that the only way forward is for everyone to be open an honest.

Somehow this is at odds, though, with the concept of Twitter. I was alerted to an excellent piece by @spandelles (Cycle journalism and the social media). The article, and it’s links, refer to the science of blogging, and why anonymity give you a voice.

I would take this further, as I see Twitter as the 21st Century extension of the original printed pamphlet. After the widespread acceptance of the Gutenberg Press, the world became awash with individual voices proclaiming their world view. Without this, we would not have had the 4th Estate. Yet somewhere in the 600 years since then we lost our way. We became beholden to commercial and political interests running our press, and we had our voice removed.

Then came the Internet. I was there in the early days of the Usenet groups. I used to read alt.simpsons.tv under the name “RedCardinal”. This was not because I was a fervent Communist Catholic priest, but because I was obsessed with Tom Clancy and had just finished “Cardinal of the Kremlin” at the time.

I had many an interesting discussion on the little yellow people unclouded by whether the person at either end was black, white, gay, straight, human or a paranoid android (one failed the Turing Test so I have my suspicions). My opinion on their views was clouded only by a history of interaction, and thus only by the content of what they wrote.

This brings me to the current debate. I consider myself an intelligent person, I consider most of those I wish to interact with intelligent, and I find that the cycling community on Twitter generally fits this category. I’ve had some wonderful discussions on music, Middle East, journalism and, believe it or not, bikes. I have grown, over time, to be able to assess when people like @festinagirl, @velocast and @uci_overlord are joking or serious and whether they are willing to expand on ideas. How do I do this? In the same way I assess @jaimiefuller@euanlindsay or @wjohngalloway – by reading the words.

So you may well ask, why did you stop using “Red Cardinal”? Well, I found that the prejudice creeped back in. People assumed I was some sort of religious, communist fanatic (though none released the contradiction in their assumption). I also realised that people lie, and people tell the truth. Just because I was “RedCardinal” didn’t actually mean I was any more trustworthy than plain old me.  And that’s the point – either we live in a world where we read and comprehend, or we one where we follow blindly and are decieved.

Lev Davidovich Bronshtein

London, 2012

 

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  1. Change Cycling Now: observations « cyclismespandelles

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