One of the things I like about Lady Gaga is her exuberant wearing of masks (and also crazy hats, preferably made of hair).

Googling around for pictures, the headlines describing her in masks can be entertaining too:

Lady Gaga Wears Mask for Press Conference – Has She Gone Too Far?

Lady Gaga’s Shocking 2009 VMA Fashion Choices!

Lady Gaga Turns Up Wearing Face Mask… Nothing To Do With The Flu

When Lady Gaga started to break into the mainstream, I came across pictures of her here and there, but still wasn’t entirely sure what she looked like. In every image, her face seemed to be at least partially obscured by masks, giant glasses, hats, and um… accoutrements.

Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, if she were a character played by a group of people?

* Image from Super Angie, a “regular mom” and figure skater, who portrays Lady Gaga in a skating routine.


Anonymouse is told to “go away”

Facebook’s marketing director, Randi Zuckerberg is rallying to banquish Anonymouse. Zuckerberg said at an event on cyberbullying this week that Anonymouse (sister to our very own Onymouse) must “go away”. We are unsure where Anonymouse is being banquished to or whether this is code for a bullet to the head as in “make that problem go away”. Zuckerberg said that Anonymouse is a bad influence and that people use the mouse to accomplish bad deeds. 

“I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors.”

But how does one hide behind a mouse? We know that Anonymouse is powerful (she is often seen clutching a large meat cleaver) but c’mon, this is a mouse! And a girl mouse, at that!

This is not the first time that Anonymouse has come under fire. Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, called Anonymouse “dangerous”. I know for a fact that at the time of this claim, Anonymouse was sitting at Cafe Trieste drinking a cup of Earl Grey. And at that point, I could only imagine her being dangerous in the kitchen as she prepares her world-famous English scones with clotted cream.

We’re determined to get to the bottom of this story and will be updating you as we hear more.


Anonymouse and Onymouse in happier times

Notes on Pseudonymity

Popular perspectives on anonymity online tend to evoke a lot of handwringing: When people don’t use their real names, they behave irresponsibly.  Incivility is rampant!

But as Jillian York’s recent post for EFF on pseudonymity highlights, there are other perspectives on the use of pseudonyms that challenge that popular refrain.  York’s piece, together with Scud’s writing on pseudonyms and ongoing documentation of controversy over enforcement of Google +’s real names policy, brings to mind some somewhat disorganized thoughts/notes on online naming practices.

Fortunately disorganized things always appear more organized with the addition of numbers.

1.   The first question is, or should be, who is harmed by real name policies. Scud’s compilation of a list detailing who is harmed is a great resource for thinking about not just who, but in what contexts people may be harmed.

2.   Thinking about who is harmed in relation to Octopus’ mention of the fear of being invisible reminds me of LGBT cultures, and the tension between fear of invisibility and the fear of visibility — the need for the closet, and the need to come out of it. Violence, discrimination and social stigma can intensify both kinds of fear.

3.   “Anonymity” seems too general a term for talking about names in conjunction with online identities and behaviors.  If anonymity is a featureless pool, in which everyone and no one could be equally “anonymous,” when are people actually anonymous online?

(a)   (Letters!  Now it’s a hierarchical outline!)  The practice of using a consistent pseudonym within a community is better described as pseudonymity rather than anonymity.  George Eliot, for example, is not an anonymous author, but a pen name or pseudonymous author — an entity with a reputation, a writing style, a voice .

(b)   But pseudonymity may be complicated by the use of different names in different communities.  A community could comprise multiple sites or a single site. If I use one name in political communities, and another name in technically-oriented communities, then in some contexts, my political self has a history and a reputation, while in other contexts my political self is a featureless slate. Partial anonymity?

(c)   Pseudonymity could also be complicated by the use of multiple names within a single community/sock puppeting.  A violation of online norms in many contexts — people expect a single participant to be represented by a single name. In my experience sock puppeting is often used in negative ways, but can there also be benefits?

4.   Single serve identities. A one-off post, perhaps with a name (legal or otherwise) that has no online presence, or with a name that has no online presence relevant to the subject at hand. How does this fit into anonymity, pseudonymity, etc.? If you have no history (yet?), are you anonymous?

Established people within a community might be both curious and suspicious about newcomers. Being a “longtime lurker” on a forum might lend some credibility by creating an implied history. When does an online name begin to accrue reputation and an identity that is recognized by other participants?

5. Playing with identity can be fun (sad, too).  It can be a learning experience, a teaching experience, a way to bully people, a way to support people. It can be art. So many things. It cannot be reduced to incivility.

About Onymouse

Feed Onymouse more words: #onymouse, @onymousing, onymousing-at-gmail,

  1. You want to know more about me?

  2. Let’s see —

  3. I’m from new jersey

    Sun, Jul 24 2011 13:42:08

  4. And, obviously

  5. Sun, Jul 24 2011 14:45:55

  6. Humans have ludicrous notions about mouses.

  7. Anyway

  8. I’m not a big talker

    Sun, Jul 24 2011 22:31:37

  9. You see, for me
  10. It’s foraging.

  11. i collect words. but not only do i collect them, i devour
    them. and sometimes i simply can’t stop.
  12. Yes,

  13. but I eat words.
  14. Arrowdown

  15. Knit Little Mouse Amigurumi Pattern
  16. And yet…

  17. Thinking about my past, it seems like it was all a hallucination. I don’t remember everything but a few parts like I have strong amnesia
  18. We mouses

  19. Count all the words in the book instead of reading them. Count all the objects in the room without classifying them.
  20. We believe
  21. I used to say:

  22. Usually mouses do.
  23. But now

  24. i forgot that i forgot what i earlier forgot made me forget that i forget everything i forget now I’m forgetting everything i forget

Identity Dolls


Fox and I have decided to explore the big I.D. What does it mean to have a name? What’s in a name anyway? How do we describe ourselves? How do contexts shape what we say to others about who we are?

I’m exploring the weird and wonderful world of online dating right now and experimenting with different profile pictures. In the very superficial world of online dating, when you get 10 people posted to you every day to “evaluate”, how do we do this? I feel like I’m pretty good at weeding out the good from the bad, but am I really? How will I ever know if I never explore things outside what I know? And then again, am I not old enough to know what I want?

So here’s a thought experiment. Each of these beautiful ladies represents a photo on Who would I like to date if this is all I had to go on? What other piece of information would I need to know? What “outfit” do I wear when I present myself? Who do I identify with? They tell us: “Be yourself!” But which self is that exactly? Is it the girl who has nightmares about being invisible? Is it the boy who appears to be strong in the face of a crisis? Is it the dark woman from Africa or the white woman from Europe? So, no, I won’t be myself if that requires me to choose. I choose to be myself in multiple.