Peter Krautzberger on the web

A short reflection on google+

Today I spent a lot of time on writing a longer piece about some mathematics. It grew completely out of proportion and it’ll take me a few more minutes hours to finish.

Other things have been keeping me busy but I really, really want to write something…

So google+. I like google+, I must admit. It’s a nice addition to twitter (which I have slowly taken to, especially for mathblogging.org). But google+ has one big problem (and one huge opportunity): its bizarre names policy. I think it is one of the great accomplishments of our societies that we have a culture where anonymity is not only legal, but protected under many circumstances (such as journalistic sources) and embraced as a crucial tool to protect those that need protection from the majority.

This accomplishment does not only extend to the public sphere but to private companies, especially those that create public places such as social networks or other platforms; this is why no store can deny me to enter or exit or even to buy something just because I’m not handing over some identification (unless it is legally necessary, say, for buying alcohol). This is an invaluable right we need to defend and it is why companies like google or facebook should not have the right to restrict their services to people who they think have the “right” names.

I think, actually, the solution is simple: regulation. I hope the EU will do it but it won’t happen unless we put it on the agenda and support those who do. If you want to read more, much smarter people than me have written about it, e.g., there’s Danah Boyd’s post I rediscovered today thanks to Jillian York. I’d love to hear what you think about this.

But what led me to writing this post was something else entirely. Remember my post about markdown? Martin Fenner shared it via google+ (which led to a nice conversation) and then Matias Piipari picked it up (sadly, not public) which led to more conversation. What is interesting to me is the statistics that came along with it. Suddenly, 50 views (yes, not a lot, but enough for me) and, what’s even more interesting, 15 spam comments! Thanks to akismet, these were all caught… So to you co-boolesring’lers: make sure you have your spam service in order.

In any case, have a great weekend.