Anonymity And Stratification

Our perception and thus our lives and surroundings are driven by biases. They are internal and external. They are mental and physical. These define our world and define us.

Erosion, by wind and water, is biased in that it takes the most direct path with the least resistance. The wind and water are of coursed biased by their own factors such as temperature, gravity, or  physical displacement. Solution caverns are formed after long periods of graceful wearing by biased paths of water dripping through the stratified layers of earth and wearing limestone or another composite down. Men are similar in that we make our paths through life using biases to survive.

Our biases help us to form groups, of positive and negative responses, based on prior knowledge or instinct(biases shared from previous generations), and particularly opinion. Biases based on opinion — family, friends, religion, race, color, creed, nationality, wealth, just about way to slice society and ideals into disparate groups — create stratification within our modern societies. We take in what we see, what we hear, what we feel and our biases respond with negative or positive reaction. These reactions aren’t always rational, because they have been passed through a filter before being truly inspected.

How can we limit our biases? How do you limit the effects of stratification, being in or out of group, above or below a threshold?

I don’t think we ever can completely destroy bias, a factor being emotion, but can we limit it; I believe so. Social networks are often based around a user’s identity and relationships, and also the sharing of the user’s ideas and emotions. Each is a form of bias, but what if we can remove everything that is unnecessary, the relationships and identities. You end up with a muddled stream of anonymous content, you strip away the biases you have positive and negative that aren’t relevant to the actual content. We hear how bad anonymity is, but just because you hide the identity doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have to exist.

John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory

John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory

Why does anonymity have to devolve? What if you can have your anonymity along with identity, and the responsibility (most) people have when it is our identity attached. Can you impart the freedom of stratified bias, while simultaneously allowing the community to hold itself to a standard without abuse. To be honest I don’t know, but both on their own are simple, the first being the standard identity based model, the other being more akin to 4chan’s open anonymity. Maybe it should be as simple as an interface switch, that can show identity, if it is wanted, but otherwise hides it by default. Relationships shouldn’t have to be destroyed in order to have the anonymity exist.

Anonymity like the biases can’t and won’t be perfect, but there have to be some ways to limit and control them. This post was partly spawned by thinking about group stratification and realizing I had partially solved it with little app I made for myself a while back that removed all external points of identity, incidentally. It my content streams from Friendfeed, and was amazed at some of the reactions I had to things I had liked that I normally would have scoffed at.