Myths of the benefit of ‘real names’ (‘real’ names: part 3)

Myth 1: Using a ‘real name’ reduces problematic behavior.

This myth is a myth because it makes having a ‘name that looks like a real name’ equivalent with ‘name associated with a history that the poster cares about’. The problem is, these are not necessarily the same thing. (And thinking they are won’t solve your problems.)

Reality: There’s nothing to stop someone making up a name that looks ‘real’. Unless, of course, you start requiring things like linking it to a credit card (which is not appropriate for many uses and has significant security concerns if you don’t want there to be major risk of identity theft. More understandable if you’re, but not so good for small sites.

Reality: It’s also not solely the legal name that prevents harassment – instead, it’s the link to an identity that someone cares about. Someone using a persistent pseudonym often cares about its reputation. Someone using their legal name may not for whatever reason (no matter how foolish that might end up being for them in the long run.)

Truth: Realistically, people who really want to harass will find ways to do it. For most circumstances, your average reader is not going to check out that Jane Doe is actually Jane Doe. What they’re going to care about is whether Jane Doe is interesting, thoughtful – and consistent with Jane Doe’s past history. Those things don’t require the name. They do benefit from history.

There’s also the problem of verifying the ‘real name’. There are ways this can work – Amazon’s process, which uses the name on the credit/debit card you have on file with them. But even there, there are problems, and in other settings, it gets even more complicated. For example, looking at Blizzard, many teens have accounts under their parent’s name – so the verifiable name on the account would be the parent, not the person (theoretically posting.)

Myth 2: Anything worth saying can be said using a legal identity.
Well, no. Really not.

If you force people to use a legal name, what you tend to hear are things that are socially acceptable to say. But there’s a lot that goes unsaid. People who are in the minority in that community will be less inclined to speak up (whether that’s due to gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, relationship preferences, background, or whatever else.)

People with health issues (their own, or their family’s) may not be willing to share useful information with others – for fear that employers or health insurers will take their comments out of context. People who have good reason to avoid being identified (those with stalkers, violent exes, etc.) won’t comment either.

While hurtful and trolling anonymous comments (those meant solely to disrupt a conversation) are a problem, I tend to think that not hearing all those other voices is even more of one. And there are other good and thoughtful ways to reduce the problematic comments, while allowing people to select a name that represents them – but that doesn’t reveal more than they’re comfortable with.

Myth 3: You can stay out of trouble online, just avoid saying anything that causes offense.

When you figure out what that topic is, please share. Pretty much anything can cause offense to someone, somewhere.

Plus, you’re assuming that all people out there are reasonable. Many people *are* reasonable. But there are people out there who aren’t – people who for whatever reason can fixate on someone (or something – it can be a topic) and be anywhere from extremely bothersome and disruptive to dangerous.

Myth 4: Privacy (and related settings) can fix the above concerns just fine.

Not so. Too many sites have gone along with one set of privacy settings only to change them fairly rapidly (and not always with advance notice to users) to make this one believable anymore. A site can’t share information it doesn’t have. It might share what you did. (So our internet history tells us, and we all know the line about those who don’t know their history being doomed to repeat it…)

Links of Interest – July 16th 2010

Two fascinating links from Harvard related sources this week. One is their Open Collections Project on Reading. And there’s an interesting article from the Harvard Magazine titled Gutenberg 2.0 about changes in library practice in the Harvard libraries around digital access.

And to go with that, a recent article from Smithsonian Magazine about the ways that technology changes (or might change) the basic act of reading.

danah boyd again has a great post – this time on the implementation of a panic button on Facebook, and whether it’s going to do what people hope (namely, allow teens to report predatory behavior). danah, quite reasonably, points out that the problem is a bit more complicated than that, and that for this to work, there needs to be some sort of sustained, meaningful, response to reports.

Links of interest: July 9th, 2010

(I missed last week’s both because a bunch of travel for a job interview threw my schedule off, and because I’ve been in the midst of the Real Name posts.)

Related to the link a few weeks ago about how browsing the stacks is dated, here’s a very nice counter example from Barbara Fister on Library Journal Online who makes a case for mindful browsing as peer-to-peer review.

If you’re like me (and many of my generation) who learned a whole lot from Our Bodies, Ourselves, you might, like me, be delighted to discover that the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective has a blog. Recent posts include information about a revised scale for maximum heart rate for women, and about proposed changes to visiting rules in hospitals (especially of interest LGBTQ folks, but of use to many others as well.) That post includes the links on how to make comments on the formal proposal and other good things.

A discussion on Metafilter about bookless libraries. It’s rather more anti-library than might be productive, but I think it’s also useful to be reminded that different libraries serve different purposes. (I particularly like Hildegarde’s comments, in terms of explaining that.)

For people unfamiliar with libaries, donations not only require time to decide if they’re appropriate additions, but they also require staff time and resources to process – cataloging, labeling, property stamping, adding a protective cover, and so on and so forth. The library I previously worked at, this comes out to a dollar or two of supplies, and probably 10-15 minutes of someone’s time per book: it doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up fast when you’re talking more than a handful of books. (And when that someone has a bunch of other stuff that they also need to do…)

And a great slideshow from a researcher at Google (Paul Adams) talking about the challenges of social networks in terms of how we actually form and have relationships with people. Great stuff.

And finally, Blizzard has announced that they’re retracting their decision to require real names on forum posts: much more information on the WoW forums. (I still plan to continue with the Real Name series, don’t worry, because we all know this is going to come up again.)

‘Real’ names online : part 2 : defining ‘real’

Before we get into the more interesting meat of the topic (which will follow next week), I want to go into a digression about the problem of ‘real names’.

First problem: What does a ‘real name’ look like?

We like to think that we know them when we see them. But really, we don’t. Some names look perfectly reasonable, but might not be real. (People with ‘Smith’ as a last name, and a common first name sometimes have this problem in reverse.) Some people have hyphens in their names. Some people have two ‘last’ names and no hyphen. And of course, many cultures have patterns of naming that do not fall tidily into the English-language derived versions of firstname lastname.

There’s a great post by Patrick, a programmer, talking about the problems simply designing a system to handle names – of all types – appropriately that goes into far more depth. Or, as he puts it, the myths that programmers believe about names.

So, when we’re saying ‘use a real name’, what we’re actually saying is ‘use a name that other people recognise as ‘real’. In which case, we should also realise that that can have its own problems.

Second problem: Is that name actually a unique identifier?

I have a very common first name (Jennifer) and a much less common last name (at least in the US: it’s much more common in Ireland, parts of England, and Australia). But what about all the people out there who really are named John Smith? Or Mary Williams?

Requiring a ‘real name’ in an online setting runs the chance of these people being mistaken for one another very easily indeed. Using a unique username in the system, however – something determined by the person themselves – not only gives a unique identifier to everyone else, but helps people stand out a bit, because their personality shows through in the choices.

I suspect you have a different response to ModernHypatia as a username than you would to JCArnott than you would to MNLibrarian. My name doesn’t tell you a lot about me, and neither does MNLibrarian – but ModernHypatia, I hope, gives you a little bit of a sense of my personality and interests that are still totally appropriate for a professional conversation. And I suspect that, if we have an extended conversation, it’s more likely to stick in your head and be remembered later, for good and for bad, than if I just go by Jennifer. (There being many Jennifers out there in the world.)

Third problem: Does that name really represent us?

Whenever we get our name (as the above link points out, that’s not always at birth!), it often comes before we even begin to develop our own independent personalities.

I’ve talked about one variant of this with friends many times: my parents almost named me Penelope, and my older brother and sister talked them out of it, quite rightly pointing out that I’d get teased through school *and* that at least half my teachers would be unable to pronounce it. (And indeed, a scary number of people think it ought to rhyme with cantaloupe. In classical Greek, where it comes from, it’s pen-EH-lo-pee) These days, I’d love to use it as a name. But I agree with my siblings: it would have been horrible throughout my school years.

Instead, I have the opposite problem: Jennifer was the most common name for girls not only the year I was born, but for five years on either side (and it was in the top 10 girls names for far longer.) That means that there’s a lot of Jennifers out there. There were four in my late elementary school class of about 22 people (half of whom were boys, so over a third of the girls were named Jennifer.) And somewhere around high school – certainly before college – I stopped answering to it reliably.

These days, if you yell “Hey, Jen!” at me, or “Hey, Jennifer!” from across a crowded room, or a field, or anywhere, I’m unlikely to turn around. That name is rarely for me. It’s like hearing a cell phone go off, when you personally don’t get a lot of calls: you don’t bother checking your pocket.

Among my friends, my religious community, my writing – pretty much anywhere other than actual ‘go to work in professional job’ work – I go by a different name, these days. (And that, incidentally, is a name I’ve got paid writing credits for, which is more than I can say for my legal name.) That name also looks quite like a ‘real name’, albeit a much less common one. But I answer to it far better – yell it across a crowded room, and I turn around. Mention it online, and my eyes pick it up far more reliably than to ‘Jen’ or ‘Jennifer’.

So, which one’s real? Good question. There’s certainly a lot to be said for the stability of my legal name, the one on things like my driver’s license, bank account, and so on. But in terms of reputation and social connection and a history I’m attached to (and would not want to mess up – one of the arguments for using ‘real names’), they’re actually both equally important to me. And perhaps – just perhaps – the pseudonym is actually more valuable to me, because I’ve invested a lot more time in developing its history and reliability online (though these days, I’m evening that up with this blog and other professional interactions.)

Fourth problem: The question of history

One of the questions I’ll be getting into next week is *why* people think that a ‘real name’ reduces problems online. (It is by no means nearly as cut and dry as sometimes presented.) But one of the arguments is that people have history attached to their ‘real name’, and they don’t want to mess up that history.

With me – as with a number of other people of my generation, we who got online in the 90s in college, and who are still around, now with a decade or more of online history under our belts – that’s often not the case. I, like many of my friends, actually have far more history under other names than under my legal name – because, in general, I reserve my legal name for situations where it’s relevant. Professional discussions, materials, and related topics – but not purely personal topics, or ones where I want a casual search to turn up material.

There’s the job-hunting argument, of course. But there’s also the reality that for the last ten years, I worked at an independent school with smart kids, smart parents, and plenty of people capable of plugging a name into Google to see what comes up. While I certainly talked about personal topics at work in appropriate ways for a school – religion, politics, hobbies, health and well-being, and many others do come up in a community – I did not and do not want that to be the material that shows up in a casual search on my legal name. I’d rather talk about those things in the context of a specific conversation with specific people.

In person, that’s easy.

Online, I use another name (the name most people know me by these days outside of work, which is really a pseudonym) for those conversations, to keep the distinction clear. I’m not doing anything embarrassing or inappropriate or that I’m ashamed of under that name. Just having conversations in a specific context which would take an awful lot of footnoting to make any sense if people from outside those communities and specific conversations wandered in.

In other words, the non-legal name actually has a great deal more online history attached to it than the legal one, so if someone is looking to try and get a fuller picture of me, my interests, and online history, it’s actually more useful. I am, of course, clear with people who might need to know what my legal name is in both contexts.

Coming next week, a look at the myths around why people think using a ‘real name’ is better, and eventually a look at the legal and related issues around privacy (which are very complex: I do not pretend to be an expert, but do hope to point at some useful resources for further learning.)

Background (‘real’ names online : part 1)

I’ve been watching the conversations about the new RealID additions on the Blizzard forums with some interest, because they tie into a much larger conversation about online interactions and anonymity and pseudonymity. So, in the next week or so, a few posts about first, some background, and then some specific concerns and considerations around the use of real-world identifying names online.

Why does this matter on a librarian’s blog?

Well, first, because I use the ‘Net, and I’m fascinated by how other people use it, and about how to help give people tools to make informed choices for their use of it.

But also because I think this is one of the major freedom of information issues of at least the next decade: how do we balance a desire for sincere conversation, with meaning and history and in the context of a particular community, with the reality that some people will abuse, harass, intimidate, or otherwise seek to harm others. Silencing those who have minority perspectives of whatever kind reduces the amount of information and experience we can all learn from, so finding some solution seems essential.

To start with, some history

(I’ll be getting into the problems of defining a ‘real’ name in part 2: for right now, please just bear with me.)

The question of whether to use a ‘real’ name online is one that goes far back into the distant Internet past, back to the time when online interaction was almost exclusively via access either at work or through a university, the days of Usenet, the very earliest email servers, and related things.

But as the ‘Net grew, people wanted to talk about things that they didn’t necessarily want to connect to a name their co-workers would recognise. Health issues. Relationship concerns. Religion. Hobbies that – while perfectly legal and reasonable – might not be the thing they wanted to be known for at work.  And so people started using online names that weren’t linked to their legal identities. This got a lot easier once it was common to have more than one email address, and when that email address was no longer tied to where you worked or where you went to school. (My experience was that it got a lot easier round about 1995 or so.)

There’s also the other part – the part that a number of people I know who’ve been online a while – know well enough. That using your ‘real’ name opens you up to a wide range of potential harassment. Everything from having comments disparaged for using an obviously female name to getting a phone call late at night from someone who makes it very clear they know where you live, and that they can get there quite quickly. I’m particularly familiar with it from the ‘being female’ side, but there’s all sorts of other variants.

And even when it’s not harassment in a legal sense, it can often be disruptive to the conversation. Someone who gets hassled even a tenth of the time they’re online is much less likely to be in public discussions online: they’re much more likely to spend their time and energy in smaller, more focused spaces with better control over behavior – not over names. Totally understandable, but it changes the public conversation, all those voices we then don’t hear.

Are these things common? Depends on the person, depends on their online patterns, depends on other things in their life. (Someone living in a college dorm or apartment complex with decent security is in a different setting than someone living by themselves, for example. Someone whose religious choices, relationship choices, hobby choices are very much in the mainstream is in a different position than someone whose choices aren’t.) But they’re common enough that many people – of all genders – find benefit in pseudonymity, for at least some of their online interactions.

Now, over time, various companies have tried different modes of encouraging ‘real name’ interaction. Generally – and this is the part I want to explore in the near future – they say that part of their goal is to encourage a more real and transparent interaction, to provide more authority in conversations online.

A few of these – though by no means all:

And some additional background commentary from the Geek Feminism wiki page on pseudeonymity and another page from the same wiki specifically on conversation around LaunchPad’s (a project management website used extensively for Ubuntu development) policies around names with some excellent illustrative quotes.

Links of interest: July 2, 2010

Many fun things this week:

First, the things that need little commentary:

Visual Economics takes (financial) information and synthesises it into fascinating pictures and infographics. Check out their graphics for the cost and effect of the BP oil spill, and how the world spends its time online.

My web host posted a nice summary of spam filtering techniques – you might check it out to see if anything in there applies to your web host (if your host uses CPanel, chances are good, but there’s some other useful info in there.)

A fascinating post from Geek Feminist titled “Scientists are ‘normal’ people, some children discover“which has some really intriguing data about how taking children to meet scientists (at least in this particular iteration) drastically increased the number of girls who drew their idea of a scientist as a woman. (There’s some interesting discussion in comments about why this might be the case, and some thoughts about why it was not true for the boys.)

danah boyd publishes a draft of the 2010 literature review of risky behaviors and online safety that builds on the 2008 literature review done for the Internet Safety Task Force. As she says, unsurprisingly, not much has changed. I’m looking forward to digging into the material.

And finally, a story from this year’s Merritt Fund banquet at the ALA conference. The Merritt Fund is designed to provide support to librarians dealing with freedom of information related legal issues, and this year’s winner (Carol Brey-Casiano) told a story about a Patriot Act issue that’s chilling.

Links of interest: June 26th, 2010

Welcome to this week’s collection of links of interest. This weekend, I am off at the Fourth Street Fantasy Convention, for lots of great conversation about books, writing, reading, and almost certainly a wide range of other topics. (I’ll have my computer, but may be a tad slower to respond to comments than usual.)

danah boyd announced the publication of some fascinating essays about risky behavior and online interaction, as part of her work with the Harvard Berkman Center Youth and Media Policy Working Group Initiative. I’m particularly fascinated by the article “Moving Beyond One Size Fits All With Digital Citizenship” by Matt Levinson and Deb Socia, but all four of them are worth reading.

The Swiss Army Librarian blog has a great overview of a presentation at the Massachusetts Library Association 2010 conference by Warren Graham on dealing with difficult patrons. (the blog post is from late April, but I only just stumbled across it.) Excellent tips on designing and enforcing appropriate library policies that create a space that remains useful for a wide range of library needs.

There’s a fascinating post from Brent, a young gay book blogger, talking about his experiences trying to find LGBT-related books in his school library. He’s very articulate about why libraries need to serve *all* of their users to the best of their ability. (Check out the comments for some other specific recommendations, too.)

The Seventeen Magazine Project traces one high school senior’s project to spend a month living according to the rules set out in Seventeen Magazine. She’s got some interesting insights. You can start with the first post here, and the sidebar has links to the others.

The other side of the screen

I’ve been thinking, this morning, about a post I just read from Scott McLeod, called “Can you ever really know that edublogger beside you?” He makes the excellent point that while we can get to know someone online, we don’t know all of them – or their actions.

I’ve heard this conversation go round hundreds of times in the fifteen years I’ve been active in conversations online – first on Usenet and email lists and my college forum system, later on Yahoo lists, on web fora, on LiveJournal, on MUCKs and MUSHes and conversations about MMORPGs. And they’ve all got a seed of truth.

But this particular argument is also missing something.

We all talk about our lives differently in different spaces. At work, we focus on some things, and gloss over others. With friends, we’ll pick different topics. At a gathering of fellow fans – like the one I’m at this weekend – the topics are again, different.

It’s certainly something that can be abused – people can lie, leave things out, or even lie to themselves. But far more often, it’s simply that we’re seeing a piece of what’s going on, not the full picture. As long as we remember that – and as long as we’re aware of how what we put out there shows a slice of ourselves and our actions – we should be just fine.

So, here’s my guidelines for myself, when it comes to online interaction:

1) I make decisions about trust in the realms I have data for.

Online, there are certain things someone might demonstrate. They might show me they’re articulate (in writing), that they think about and respond to criticism or questions in a productive way, that they have a knack for pulling together different pieces of information in a fascinating way.  I may take their suggestion of another blogger to read, or a particular approach to a problem they’ve got a lot of described experience with seriously.

For everything else – all the things I don’t see – there’s a neutral zone. I don’t trust it, but I don’t distrust it, either. I treat it the same way I do a piece of information in Wikipedia: possibly useful, but if I’m going to rely on it for anything other than amusement or transient conversation, I should probably check it out more first.

2) I have realistic expectations.

I’m generally very willing (time and energy allowing) to meet people in person I first got to know online (and I’ve had some amazing friendships and interactions come out of it.) But I’m also realistic: I don’t expect that a meeting for dinner means we’re going to be Best Friends Forever. Mostly, I expect we’ll have an interesting conversation over a nice meal, and both go away with new things to think about.

I expect that there are things that might surprise me. I make sure I can take care of my own basic well-being without relying on them. And I usually come prepared with some stuff I’m pretty sure we’ll mutually enjoy. Most importantly, I assume that we’ll have a pleasant time, but that it probably won’t be one of the earth-shatteringly amazing days of my existence. (It might be, but assuming it will be just leads to disappointment!)

3) Sharing is likely to be unequal.

Online, it’s very easy for the information sharing to be quite uneven. Imagine a prolific blogger: over the course of six months, they might share a fair bit of information about themselves in whatever they’re talking about. Their reader may come to feel they know a fair bit about the blogger.

And yet, even if those readers reply, the amount *they* share may be far less in quantity than the blogger shares. Or it may be in totally different areas of interest. This isn’t bad or wrong – but it does mean that both parties should be aware of what they do and don’t know about each other, and plan accordingly.

4) People can’t see things about me that seem obvious from inside my own head.

I pay attention, when talking to people online, and especially if a meeting is coming up, to what I tend not to talk about.

Here’s a rather odd one: I’m a librarian, and I’m a voracious reader, but I have a long history of not talking about all of what I read – a side effect of having gotten very self-conscious of how fast and how varied my reading was back in elementary school. I’ve been working up to doing better with that (hence the GoodReads widget in my sidebar here), but even that isn’t everything. (For example, I don’t plan to list books I read to deepen my religious understanding there, unless they’re also of wide general interest.)

And so, I also pay some attention to what people don’t say in their own comments, and whether that’s relevant to the ways I know them. If someone keeps a very focused blog, that’s one thing – but if someone wanders over a range of topics, but persistently leaves some out, it’s sometimes worth a little attention if I’m going to meet them face to face.

Being aware of these things means that when they come up face-to-face – as they often do, because some conversations can be much more comfortable with a few people in person than with lots of people in online public space – I can structure what I say better. And I can remember to ask them questions when it’s relevant, about the stuff they don’t talk much about.

In conclusion:

These four guidelines have meant that almost all of my face-to-face meetings with people I know via online settings have been good fun, interesting, and overall enjoyable. I’ve had a handful where we didn’t click (but nothing worse than that), and hundreds, now, of occasions where we became closer, had more to talk about, or deeply enjoyed each other’s company.

(Right now, I am sitting on a hotel couch with a friend I met online. Yesterday, I picked her up from the airport, and we have had lunch with others, and an outing, and coffee this morning, and we are currently sitting on a couch with our computers in hand waiting for more People From The Internet to show up.)

Tracking things to read

Tracking books I’ve read is much easier – I’ve played with various options, including a nice straight plain text list, but I’m currently using GoodReads, because it’s got the nicest integration with WordPress in my opinion. (Just take a look at my sidebar…) But tracking what I *want* to read is a lot trickier.

Like most avid readers, I usually have a long list of books I want to read. But those lists can get complicated.

  • Some books aren’t out yet.
  • Some I want to get from my library (most)
  • Some I’ll need to buy (things not readily available from my library, or just plain books I want to own.)
  • Some might be out of print.
  • Some are going to be very popular, and I’m going to sit on the reserves list at the library for quite a while.

And most importantly, I want to read a wide variety of different kinds of books: when I’m looking for something new to read, I try to keep a balance between them. My basic categories include genre reading (fantasy, science fiction, mysteries), non-fiction, professional reading, books related to my religious interests, and I don’t like the list of one type of reading complicating finding titles of other types. Also, I sometimes have the “I want to read a mystery…” moments and don’t want to wade through dozens of other entries to find the mysteries.

There’s no really great solution for this. I’ve looked at various discussions – this discussion from the Unshelved Answers site on tracking books to read and this one from AskMetafilter on tracking books to read are both focused on tracking books already read, but include comments on tracking things to read as well. I’ve played with a few of the iPhone/iPod apps, and find them useful, but a bit cludgy: it takes me a long time to enter and move data around, and I read enough books that that’s problematic. (The one I like best is BookCrawler, though, if you’re looking…)

But I think I’ve settled down into a spreadsheet – in my case, in iWork’s Numbers, which I prefer to Excel when I get the chance. I have one page for fiction, and one page for non-fiction right now, but may split those out in other ways later.

My columns are:

  • Title (the thing I’m most likely to remember about the book, personally.)
  • Author (because it is also useful)
  • The publication date, with conditional formatting I’ll explain in a moment
  • Genre
  • And a brief notes field

The publication date is the trickiest one for me. I often hear about books a good while before they’re coming out, sometimes long before I can put a hold in on them at the library. Likewise, there are times I want to focus on recent titles (especially those that are getting a lot of conversation right now) so I can join in discussions about them.

My publication date column is therefore set up so that I can tell at a glance how recent a title is. I divided things up into books more than 5 years old, books 1-5 years old, books 3-12 months old, books out in the last 3 months, and books not yet out. This way, it’s easy for me to see what I might want to go and request at the library (or go and get from the bookstore.) and an idea of how long the reserve list might be. I can easily sit down once a month and add a reminder in my task management program for forthcoming books once they might be in the system, too.

Links of interest: June 18, 2010

First in a series of collected links of interest, of posts I’ve found particularly intriguing over the last week or so:

The myth of browsing (an article from American Libraries, the journal of the American Library Association) takes on the idea that being able to browse a collection is essential for scholarly knowledge. I’m of two minds: I adore browsing for the sheer joy of it, the things I find that are also of interest to me, outside of my research in a particular focused topic. But I do agree with the issues of storage and practicality, and the point that a browseable collection of 20,000 volumes might do very well in almost all circumstances.

I’m a huge fan of danah boyd’s writing, and particularly liked her recent post on How COPPA fails parents, educators, youth for a clear explanation of why all these websites require you to be older than 13 – and why it’s not as helpful as you’d think.

For people who love both libraries and lists (via Jessamyn at comes an article from American Libraries about a new book by George Eberhart called The Librarian’s Book of Lists. Check out the lists article for a few samples.

Starting accounts on various sites can be complex, but so can leaving them. A nice round-up of the steps and relative complexity of deleting accounts on a whole bunch of commonly used sites is a handy thing to have around. (I like their explanation of why you can’t delete accounts on some sites, and what you can do instead, too.)

And, in the realm of ‘being better humans helps everyone’, a link came across my line of sight that’s been making me think ever since: it’s about how sick systems develop, how to recognise them, and ways to remove yourself from them. Most people I know have been in such a system at one point or another in their life (whether that’s in a relationship, family of origin, work, or some other commitment), but I found the description and analysis here particularly clear and of potential use. Check out How to keep someone with you forever .

Hi, I’m Jen

Librarian, infovore, and general geek, likely to write comments about books, link collections, and other thoughts related to how we find, use, and take joy in information.

I'm the Research Librarian at the Perkins School for the Blind

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