Friday, November 14, 2008

The Jackson Effect

The Jackson Effect

Not Peter, not Michael, but Gordon. You know that scene in The Great Escape where Richard Attenborough and Gordon Jackson are about to board the bus, and Jackson is caught out by the question out of nowhere? auf Englisch? Well, that kind of happened to me. I was talking to the Provost at SLAC, and out of nowhere, in the middle of a different conversation, he pops out with, "You're Another Damned Medievalist, aren't you?" The Hell? Apparently, a couple of people thought he was ADM.

So I don't know how far the cat is out of the bag. With luck, folks who stumble on this will respect the pseudonymity and accept that I just happen to have a nom de blog. As New Kid pointed out to me in email the other day, it's not as if people with half a brain couldn't figure it out anyway. It's just that I think my colleagues at SLAC are not so into the whole blogosphere. Guess we'll see.

In other news, I am seriously tired. This semester needs to be over.


Kelly in Kansas said...

interesting . . . (not in a good way, though). But I'm surprised that they would do it so overtly even if they did suspect . . . I don't think anyone who doesn't know you could figure out your institution anyway. I'll keep my fingers crossed. (This is especially troubling given how well you guard the identity of your fellow bloggers.)

Anonymous said...

If it's any comfort, I once spent a little while trying to work out your institution from the blog and the IP address a comment you'd left on my blog had been made from, before I knew where you were obviously, and got nowhere, so I think you're secure from that direction at least. And of course I work to keep all pseudonymous commentators on my blog that way. Still. Argh.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Well, most of my colleagues don't seem to be interested in the blogosphere, so I think it's kind of down to the Provost and whether he looses the kitties. But eh -- I don't say anything I'm ashamed of, so I'm not going to sweat it unless the walls really do come crashing down. I'd hate it way more if my mother found this place, or the Kid.

James said...

I've been thinking about this and have come to the conclusion that it's not possible to be truly pseudonymous on a personal blog. On a political blog, if all you talk about is Obama and Clinton and Bush, yes. But on a personal blog, you're constantly telling people details about yourself. They accrete. You're a female medievalist specializing in the Carolignians, you teach at a SLAC where you started in such and such a year, before that you were at such and such a type of college, adjuncting, which was much of the width of the continent away. You gave papers at K'zoo this year and that year but not the other year; you spent the summer at the BL this year and that year but not the other, you have a book contract with a German publisher. I can't say there's only one person satisfying that description, but there surely aren't five. So if your provost happens to know a person who fits that description, the likelihood is, it's you. So he asks.

Now, you are still pseudonymous to people who don't know you and therefore don't recognize the accreted details. You're google-proofed: someone googling your real name or your SLAC and department won't come across the blog. So the pseudonymity isn't useless. But it can't be complete.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

James -- I think the pseudonymity is pretty safe -- it's the anonymity that I don't have! :-)

Actually, 'female Carolingianist teaching in the US' pretty much knocks it down to under 10, I think!