The times they are a changing... at least for me. I have come to realize the value of being "non-anonymous" and it has been somewhat of an awakening for me. I am learning to embrace transparency, and so far I think that's a good thing. As someone who has frequented the Internet since long before the World Wide Web (I got my first Compuserve Account in 1982, along with my Commodore 64) I was sort of weened in the ways of anonymity. Going "online" meant going online with a "screenname" (a "handle" to put it in CB Radio Terms) so that no one knew who you really were. This was especially useful when using a 300 Baud Modem to log onto a strange bulletinboard with a long distance call to San Francisco in the middle of the night (a bulletin board you found in the classified ads in the back of BYTE Magazine...) This pseudo self was very effective for flaming people on the boards with stupid and inane comments, a practice that was practically an art form in the day. Years later, upon getting divorced and finding myself suddenly single, I embraced the world of online dating... once again protected by the Scarlett Letter: In this case the "A" was for "Anonymity." I could flirt and chat and charm, all under the guise of an anonymous profile. In the business world, running several Public Companies, I further honed my skills for secrecy, with fear of "selective disclosure" training me to keep things close to the vest (even though I hadn't actually worn a vest since my Bar Mitzvah!)
Even this blog, loosely launched in 2004, was first published under my anonymous dating screenname and had no public connection to the real me. Of course that has all changed. Now you can get my contact info, my detailed bio on LinkedIN, my Twitter updates, my professional info, pictures of me and mine, and a wealth of peeks at my person that surely must border on TMI -- too much information.
Why the change?
Two words. Social Networking. To truly leverage the power of today's amazing tools of communication and connection, you cannot be nameless. You cannot make a mark if nobody can recognize your mark. With so many touchpoints and vectors, so many avenues to access -- each overlapping and interlacing in so many ways -- every blogpost, comment, update, email, IM and text message you post, leave or send, has a residual value that will only inure to your benefit if it can be attributed to YOU. If you are going to flitter on Twitter, pounce on Pownce, write Haiku on Jaiku, make facetime on Facebook, have a fling on Ning, take up space on MySpace and just be a part of the Community... then you must stand up, open up, take off the the Kimono and take CREDIT for your words, thoughts, opinions and actions. Will you make mistakes? Sure. Will you say something stupid, or overly obvious, or ten minutes after everyone else in the world has already said the same thing? Sure. But that's ok, because you will be in the game, and to be in the game that's part of the game. And in time you will gain both confidence and credibility, and the value of your connections will far surpass the fear of being non-anonymous!