Friday, 26 January 2007


There are two very interesting threads on The Guardian's CiF site today - A.C. Grayling on anonymity in blogging, and Alan Rusbridger on privacy and the Internet. A lot of food for thought in the comments.


Richard W. Symonds said...

Sounds interesting...searched, bt can't find it. Could you tell us more, svp ?

anticant said...

The Grayling post is called "Commenter reveal thyself", and is currently no. 2 on the "most active" list at the right hand side of the CiF home page.

One comment which bears upon the worries of those who object to having a Google account says:

"People tend to underestimate how easy they are to track on the internet already. I used to post at a much smaller forum, and now and again someone would come along who was obviously putting on an act. Being slightly obsessive, I'd now and again go on a detective expedition across the internet trying to find out if they were putting us on. E.g. "outing" someone complaining about "black racists" as a neo-nazi from Portugal, or someone pretending to be an Asian lesbian with a rags-to-riches story as a white male bail-bonds employee. It isn't necessary to be a super-hacker to engage in this: Google and Whois and other tools are all that's needed in many cases. It's a weird feeling to start with someone's post history and end up a couple of hours later looking down at their home or workplace via a satellite photo on Google Maps.

Enough to make one rather careful and even paranoid... A few personal details mentioned here and there on different sites can be triangulated with scary ease."

So I do think that those who are frightened of Google are rather straining at gnats......

Richard W. Symonds said...

I have now assumed that we all get 'snooped on' regularly by the likes of GCHQ et al.

For me, it's not paranoia - just a statement of fact.

I have an amused contempt about it - just imagine some poor soul now 'tracking' this blog in an office in Cheltenham.

Hello, Betty !

Richard W. Symonds said...

I have a 'soft spot' for AC Grayling :

1. Because he wrote the Introduction to THAT book "The Art of Always Being Right" by Arthur Schopenhauer, and

2. He lectures at Birkbeck College, where one of my 'mentors', Cyril Joad, was a 'Professor'(Reader, actually) of Philosophy and Psychology for 23 years.

Thanks for the CiF link :

anticant said...

"Hello, Betty" indeed! That's exactly how I feel, and have done since the 1960s when I am quite certain I was regarded as a 'security risk' because I was campaigning for gay law reform. I have treated the post, the telephone, and computers as 'public address systems' ever since. I object on principle, of course - but whoever is daft enough to think my trite utterances are of any importance whatsoever should have better things to do with their overpaid time!

I cannot understand the reluctance of the people who attacked me for opening the arena to have a Google account. Do they really think it would strip them bare? Every time they order anything online or pay a bill, they reveal their identities.

Richard W. Symonds said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Anticant.

But the downside is that 'they', if they choose to, can plant a virus in your system, which essentially destroys it.

Of course there's no way to prove it, but there have been specific occasions when my computer 'died', and I instinctively felt that someone somewhere wanted to 'silence' me.

And, of course, people can accuse me of egoism, persecution complexes, and delusions of grandeur etc by thinking like this.

To those "people", I don't care what you accuse me of - just stop messing around with my computer !

Richard W. Symonds said...

I still can't find the Rusbridger bit ?

anticant said...

Rusbridger was a very short post yesterday about Davos 07 and Internet privacy. You should find it if you click 'older posts' [bottom left] and go down the list for this week.

I fear there are more than enough computer viruses floating around without needing to assume that it's the 'spooks' when you crash. Probably just a malicious programmer nerd wanting to cause general mayhem for all and sundry. If you don't have a good up-to-date virus protection programme, and firewall, you are bound to be in trouble every now and then. And - most important of all - have a good back-up system. I do a full weekly back-up onto a portable hard disk, and daily incremental ones. We have a local computer 'wizard' who spends hours here keeping things in trim for us. Even then, they do go wrong quite often, alas.

I can't imagine why anyone would want to shut you up, Richard!

Richard W. Symonds said...

I can't imagine why either, Anticant :)

anticant said...

Another interesting - and dismaying - thread: