anonymous said:

Where do you think Craquis is?

Cranquis and i have an agreement that allows me 3 guesses of his location per year. Unfortunately, I have used up my guesses for the year, so I can’t really venture a guess now. Also, my location guesses are based on my sleuthing of his blog and are between me and him (her?). 

But I’m currently working on states between New York and California, if that narrows things down for you any. 

During last week’s episode of Slate’s Political Gabfest, a weekly podcast I normally adore, senior editor Emily Bazelon mocked the concept of online anonymity. Our society would be better off if everyone was forced to put their name to their words, she said, generalizing that online anonymous users are poisoning civil discourse with their largely vile and defamatory comments. She deemed only one class of user legitimately deserving of anonymity: “people who directly fear violence.”

In this view of the Internet, everyone else’s anonymity is worth sacrificing to silence the trolls.

It’s easy to understand why some in the press have this perspective. If you work in online media, the bulk of your interactions involve news stories, which seem to draw the ugliest forms of discourse. If you’re a public figure, you’re faced with haters on Twitter who are obsessed with enumerating all the ways you suck. They’re even worse in the comments on YouTube. A website, such as Slate, certainly has the right to determine the culture of its online community, and I don’t have a position whether such sites, across the spectrum, should or should not allow anonymous comments, or even allow comments at all. I do, however, dispute this narrow vision of the Internet.

So, I spent the weekend brainstorming and jotting down all the kinds of people who would lose out if anonymity no longer existed in any form on the Internet.

Anonymity is important to:

  • the people who run some of the funniest parody Twitter accounts, such as @FeministHulk (SMASH THE PATRIARCHY!) or @BPGlobalPr during the Deepwater Horizon aftermath. San Francisco would not be better off if we knew who was behind @KarltheFog, the most charming personification of a major city’s climate phenomenon.
  • the young LGBTQ youth seeking advice online about coming out to their parents.
  • the marijuana grower who needs to ask questions on an online message board about lamps and fertilizer or complying with state law, without publicly admitting to committing a federal offense.
  • the medical patient seeking advice from other patients in coping with a chronic disease, whether it’s alopecia, irritable bowel syndrome, cancer or a sexually transmitted infection.
  • the online dater, who wants to meet new people but only reveal her identities after she’s determined that potential dates are not creeps.
  • the business owner who wants no-pulled-punches feedback from their customers.
  • the World of Warcraft player, or any other MMOG gamer, who only wants to engage with other players in character.
  • artists. Anonymity is integral to the work of The Yes Men, Banksy and Keizer.
  • the low-income neighborhood resident who wants to comment on an article about gang violence in her community, without incurring retribution in the form of spray paint and broken windows.
  • the boyfriend who doesn’t want his girlfriend to know he’s posing questions on a forum about how to pick out a wedding ring and propose. On the other end: Anonymity is important to anyone seeking advice about divorce attorneys online.
  • the youth from an orthodox religion who secretly posts reviews on hip hop albums or R-rated movies.
  • the young, pregnant woman who is seeking out advice on reproductive health services.
  • the person seeking mental health support from an online community. There’s a reason that support groups so often end their names with “Anonymous.”
  • the job seeker, in pursuit of cover letter and resume advice in a business blogger’s comments, who doesn’t want his current employer to know he is looking for work.
  • many people’s sexual lives, whether they’re discussing online erotica or arranging kink meet-ups.
  • Political Gabfest listeners. Each week, the hosts encourage listeners to post comments. Of the 262 largely positive customer reviews on iTunes, only a handful see value in using their real names.

Anonymity is important to anyone who doesn’t want every facet of their online life tied to a Google search of their name. It is important to anyone who is repulsed by the idea of an unrelenting data broker logging everything she has ever said, or shown interest in, in a permanent marketing profile.

Bazelon describes anonymous comments as “generally a big mistake” for free societies. I disagree and point to Common Sense by Thomas Paine, originally published under the anonymous byline, “an Englishman.” (Perhaps that could be Gabfest’s next Audible recommendation.)

To suggest anonymity should be forbidden because of troll-noise is just as bad as suggesting a ban on protesting because the only demonstrators you have ever encountered are from the Westboro Baptist Church—the trolls of the picket world. People who say otherwise need to widen their experience and understanding of the online world. The online spaces we know and love would be doomed without anonymity, even if the security of that anonymity is far from absolute or impenetrable. The ability to explore other identities, to communicate incognito, to seek out communities and advice without revealing your identity is not only a net positive, but crucial to preserving a free and open Internet.

anonymous said:

Do you know of an alternative to IMAlive? I can't stand the thought of supporting a company that hates me, but I need to know if there's something similar I or my friends can use in case of an emergency.

(In case you missed it, the backstory is that IMALive is not a volunteer program that is trustworthy, for a number of reasons detailed in the article.)

Update: the wonderful rcmclachlan just pointed me towards which looks amazing, and instantly accessible. Plus, you can even search by keywords! I searched for listeners in fandom and got a whole page of results.

There’s also, which is the online branch of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

The only other online emergency chatline that I know of is this one organized by the Veterans Crisis Line. While obviously it is intended to give priority to veterans in need, it is open to the public.

There is a suicide forum that has a chat system, but it requires joining the forum and logging in.

You might also want to check out the #RUOK movement, especially if you’re in Australia. (They have a strong hashtag, but the end goal is to encourage people to talk to each other in person.)

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is always a resource you can turn to in times of emergency, as they are staffed 24 hours a day with trained volunteers: 1-800-273-8255

I know that “talk to me” can feel hollow on Tumblr, but I just want you all to know that if any of you want to talk about anything for any reason, you can email me, right now (thesevenlines at gmail), or shoot me an ask, or IM me (thesevenlines again). I’ll do what I can to give you what support I can. It’s not much, but I mean it. I’ll listen as long as you need.

It’s my turn to ask each of you: are you okay?

The Internet is an amazing opportunity, socially. We have this opportunity to mature and learn, which is the essence of being on earth — to being the closest person we can be to our actual, real, truest self.

But the Internet also allows us the opportunity to project outward our hatred, our jealousy. It’s culturally acceptable to be an anonymous commenter. It’s culturally acceptable to say, ‘I’m just going to take all of my internal pain and externalize it anonymously.’

The lack of empathy that is created when people can anonymously opine about the looks or actions of others … It’s where we are in our culture. Yes, it does worry me, for the development of my kids and the next generation, that people can be so cruel without experiencing the consequences of being so cruel face to face.

Perhaps the Internet has been brought to us as a test in our emotional evolution. What is growth? What is maturity? It’s being able to experience an external event and creating the space within to contain that experience, to see it through the filter of who you really are, to not be reactive. To see someone in a dress you don’t like, and instead of writing from a username like shitebomber207: ‘Who does this fat bitch think she is,’ or whatever, even though you might feel that way, just stopping and saying to yourself, ‘I wonder what this image represents to me that I feel such a surge of anger?’ To love the Internet for what it provides, but to know it’s not real, and it’s sometimes dangerous for our development.

—  excerpts from Gwyneth Paltrow’s talk at CodeCon 2014
Watch on

I gave this talk last summer at SHARE Rijeka in Rijeka, Croatia. The venue was an old Yugoslav Navy yacht, which was interesting to say the least.

I shared a few anecdotes from the past few years that have shaped my thinking around anonymity, ephemerality, and creativity. If you can stand my umms and errs (I’m working on it!), give it a watch.

"I've done nothing wrong, I have nothing to hide."

In Hacking the FutureI outlined some responses to people who invoke their innocence in an argument against privacy. 

Here are three that certainly apply this week. 

1. The Misinterpretation Problem

Let’s say you download Tor. The next day you buy some fertilizer. The day after that, you post a rant about the Federal Reserve inflating the money supply. Separately, these things don’t mean much, but when pieced together, a bit of liberal inference can paint an alarming picture. These are the sorts of things that a surveilling agency could be looking for if given the ability to glean information from your Facebook status updates, among other channels. Even if we assume that authority figures mean well, mistakes are made. Death row inmates are proven innocent decades into their sentences. Information is misinterpreted. The more data the government has at its disposal, the more likely they are to arrive at terrible conclusions.

When I spoke with him on the phone, Philip Zimmermann, the creator of PGP, seemed to look back at the times when he was only speaking out against government privacy intrusions as if they were the good old days. Now we have “Little Brother” in addition to Big Brother. He argues that 9/11 created a massive policy drive, a sort of “Manhattan Project” for surveillance technology, bringing my attention to powerful cameras that can zoom in on someone’s face in a crowd from the top of a building hundreds of yards away. Facebook could provide the government with a global database of faces that can be linked to security camera footage.

Having such detailed information at our fingertips sounds like it would enable us to better discern truth from fantasy, but human error is all around us, and more data can often just mean more room for mistakes—mistakes that can ruin lives. 

2. The Data Theft Problem

The number of data security breaches in the private sector has increased by 58 percent year-on-year according to the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office. When Microsoft talks about developing a driver’s license for the Internet, I think of South Korea, which had a similar system in place until recently, after the most damaging online security breach the country has ever seen. The real-name registration system was introduced in 2007 and required users to authenticate their posts on certain popular Web sites with their birth name and address. Hackers compromised 35 million user accounts in July 2011.

And you don’t have to be a superhacker to gather enough info to make someone’s life miserable. Just ask the innumerable women who are stalked and harassed by ex- and would-be lovers in real life through information the stalkers have gleaned from the Web.

3. The Tyranny Creep Problem

Some privacy advocates are optimistic about our future, given that citizens now have increased powers of surveillance through mobile phones, for instance, and increasingly robust communication channels, like Twitter. This vision of the future was laid down by science fiction author David Brin. In his 1998 book The Transparent Society, he suggests that within high-tech societies with less privacy, authority figures lose the powers of secrecy they use to abuse citizens. In this view, groups like WikiLeaks and Anonymous will rise up to combat tyranny.

The idea is enticing, and it certainly seems like we are living in an era of great power redistribution and decentralization. But as we’ve witnessed during Occupy Wall Street and its related protests, citizens may have cameras, but the cops still have the billy clubs. The ability to countersurveil will only go so far as the rest of the fabric of democracy allows it. It’s only part of the tapestry of freedoms. I submit that we must ensure that citizen surveillance is shored up by the freedom to expose authority figures with anonymity.

Every oppressive regime, all the way back to the Holy Roman Empire’s census, has used data harvesting as a tool to accumulate greater control. You can’t control a populace you can’t see. As the Roman Empire expanded, so did its need to keep tabs on the far-flung peoples they had conquered. We see this continuing in the modern world, in East Berlin, Russia, and China. Information gathering is always the first step. Not all state-sponsored data analysis is malicious, of course. But it is problematic when a populace doesn’t know how its data is being used. According to a recent study by Stanford University’s Computer Security Laboratory, consumers are far less anonymous while browsing than they realize. The study found that registering an account with NBC shared a user’s e-mail with seven other companies, and Home Depot shared user data with thirteen other companies.

If you’ve read this far, I hope I’ve convinced you that privacy is not the same thing as secrecy. Just because you don’t want to leave your front door wide open while you sleep does not mean you have something to hide. Anonymity and freedom of speech are so closely intertwined as to be inseparable. The latter is meaningless without the safeguard of the former. Free speech isn’t very free when it can get you thrown in prison or worse.

Identities Revealed

anonymous asked: Okay to be honest, due to your guys’ anonymity, I always picture all of the admins here as being, like, secret (multi-)millionaire and/or suuuuper-famous authors. Like J.K. Rowling or Stephen King or Laurie Halse Anderson or Neil Gaiman or Margaret Atwood or John Green or something like that. Just thought I might say that.

Well, I can’t decide for the other admins, but I think it’s time for me to come clean. My books haven’t been selling well lately, and I think that promoting them here is probably the best course of action to revitalize my floundering career.

My name is Herman Melville.

I just wrote this AWESOME book about whales and all the critics have been super mean about it and I think it would be cool if we all showed ‘em that books about whales CAN be fun!

Ok but really, we’re anonymous because the fact that we are (or are not) super popular/successful/rich and fabulous authors really shouldn’t matter. We want our blog to be read because it produces quality content, and we don’t believe that we need some sort of big name to back us, because the content speaks for itself.

This is the same reason we don’t disclose our follower count. If you follow us, cool. If you think our stuff is useful, cool. It doesn’t matter who wrote it and it doesn’t matter how many other people read it, as long as you find it helpful.

There’s a little bit more stuff about this in our FAQ, and we have an admin credits page that has some information on most of our active admins, as well as some individual contact info so you can ask us stuff individually (I really recommend that, we like people talking to us, and it’s WAY easier to respond to someone in a conversation than it is in an ask).

- O

Via Gizmodo:

Tor, the network used specifically for privacy and anonymity, just warned users of an attack meant to deanonymize people on the service. Anyone who used Tor from February 2014 through this July 4 can assume they were impacted.

Who’s behind the attacks? It appears researchers from Carnegie Mellon. Via The Verge:

The Tor team suspects the CERT division of Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute (SEI). Earlier this month, CERT abruptly canceled a Black Hat conference talk called “You Don’t Have to be the NSA to Break Tor: Deanonymizing Users on a Budget.” The NSA has famously attempted to break Tor, to limited success.

So what’s the big deal?: If it was the team from CERT, consider the attack a proof of concept. If they can get in, so to can more malicious actors. According to The Guardian, the CERT talk at the Black Hat conference would explain “how anyone with $3,000 could de-anonymise users of Tor.”

Somewhat related: US Government increases funding for Tor, via The Guardian.

Tor, the internet anonymiser, received more than $1.8m in funding from the US government in 2013, even while the NSA was reportedly trying to destroy the network.

According to the Tor Project’s latest annual financial statements, the organisation received $1,822,907 from the US government in 2013. The bulk of that came in the form of “pass-through” grants, money which ultimately comes from the US government distributed through some independent third-party.

Sorta Somewhat Related, Tinfoil Hat Edition: Back in January, Reuters reported that the NSA funneled $10 million to RSA, a computer security firm whose encryption tools are an industry standard. The Reuters report indicates that the funding helped ensure that a less secure encryption system was used as the default setting in an RSA “software tool called Bsafe that is used to enhance security in personal computers and many other products.”

anonymous said:

How great is the inception fandom, tho? Cause the movie's just like dramatic music, idiotic decisions and then the fandoms like BAMFS THEY'RE ALL BAMFS BUT NOT COBB, HE'S GOT HIS WIFE FOR ALL THE BAMFERY and then there's a/e and its like they COULD be doing all this stuff, but no, we want chav verse and domestic verse and that coffee shop AU. AND THOSE FICS THAT ARE BETTER THAN THE MOVIE!

hahaha, yes, thank you! This is exactly how I always describe the Inception fandom to everyone, i.e. “The fandom mostly ignores the main character and his manpain because we think he’s a moron and instead we just write zillions of fics about the rest of the ensemble and how badass they are.” It’s always so cool because no one outside of fandom even knows the Inception fandom exists, so they’re all like, BWUH? THERE ARE GIRLS WRITING FICS ABOUT CHRISTOPHER NOLEN FILMS? 

but inside fandom, everyone’s all, ‘oooh, Inception fandom, I heard y’all are the shit.’ DAMN RIGHT.

so many fics, so many geniuses in this fandom, SO MUCH PARTY TIME. :D

My Anonymity

When I started this blog, I did so in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of my choice to become poly. As my husband and I took our first steps as a poly couple, I couldn’t help but feel uncertain about it all and where it would lead.

Next month will mark one year in this lifestyle and I have learned more about myself in the past 11 months than in entire 34 years of life. I’m more comfortable with myself and who I’ve become…proud even.

From the outset, not once did it enter my mind that I’d eventually be so content in my lifestyle, so my anonymity was of the upmost importance. Now, I’m beginning to view my namelessness as a hindrance to my continued growth. Like so much in my life, I’ve given this much consideration. Hiding is counterproductive to my freedom now as a person in an open marriage.

So…with no further ado, here is my face.