Sometimes I think that if I were starting blogging today, I would choose to write under a pseudonym. I think that I may have wanted that initially, but the blogging software I was using at the time - Radio userland - had a default of displaying the blogger's name. Before I learned how to turn that off, my name was already out there in links from other bloggers. It's interesting how little seemingly random accidents can have a lasting impact.
But I wasn't too worried that my name was out there. At first it seemed that my blogging life would always be quarantined from the rest of my life. It seemed like a long long time before I met any other bloggers face to face or anyone who had read my blog.
Of course everything's different now. I am aware that every word I write is potentially viewable by my past, present and future employers and co-workers, prospective girlfriends, exes, friends and enemies, all sorts of family members, including my mother. When I get an idea for a post, at some point I need to decide whether this is the sort of post I want to have on my blog, given all of this.
If I blogged under a pseudonym, I wouldn't have to worry about this. I could be more controversial and not worry about alienating the prejudiced and easily offended. There would be other things to worry about - namely protecting my secret identity. When writing about specific work or personal things, I couldn't be too detailed, or I would need to fictionalize some of the details (although that can be fun). I would need to keep other bloggers at arm's length, and would be reluctant to attend blogging meetups or be involved in a group like lint.
I do think that there are advantages and disadvantages to both kinds of authorship.
I don't buy into the "named bloggers are inherently more ethical and accurate" argument either. For me, the potential readership of this blog does make me feel personally accountable for my blogging - to play nice with others and not be sloppy in my research or writing. But just because it's like this for me, I can't assume that it's like this for everyone or that the converse is true - that anonymous/pseudonymous bloggers don't care about playing nice or checking their facts. Recently at MPOW I was put in a very unusual situation - of needing to find a shortlist of blogs in a subject I didn't know a lot about, project management. Although I feel very reticent about rating blogs, I devised a quick & dirty way that I could live with. Whether the blog was written under a pseudonym or by a named author was irrelevant. It's possible that under my criteria, a named blog by somebody who really has made a name for themselves may receive bonus points, but that's as far as it would go. If a blog - be it named or pseudonymous - contained mean-spirited ad hominem attacks, I'd probably rate it low for "quality" and give it negative bonus points.
Before I finish, I should probably mention that this post is my indirect response to the Annoyed Librarian's post on this. I have a lot of time for the Annoyed Librarian. We have a couple of things in common: we are both skeptics about the librarian shortage and we have both made fun of 2.0 stuff. I still think that the Library 2.0 label has done more harm than good. I care deeply about the components, which existed quite happily before anyone made up the lame Library 2.0 term. It still annoys me that these pre-existing technologies and ideas have been co-opted by Library 2.0, when I think they would have been better off left on their own. Mark my words, it won't be long before Library 2.0 sounds as cringe worthy as that mid-1990s gem "information superhighway." Where I differ from the Annoyed Librarian is that I do care about advancing much of what has been labelled Library 2.0. Because of this, I have been willing to jump on the Library 2.0 bandwagon when it's helped me communicate and work with colleagues, and then I jump off again and it's been ok.