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Integral Life Portal: Real Name Usage

Last post 07-24-2007, 11:18 PM by pattye. 37 replies.
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  •  07-17-2007, 4:19 PM 25920

    Integral Life Portal: Real Name Usage

    A repost of something I just posted on my blog, for community feedback.

    "At Integral Life we are considering the move to using real names in the community, for reasons that Seth Godin blogs about here.  The basic notion is simple: if you want to make even an online community start to feel like a real community, require that community members act like real people.  All of a sudden, members have real names, real stories, real lives; civil discourse, taking pride in good behavior, and other things we try to achieve offline don't become flimsy throwaways online.  And more to the point, if an integral community is really going to try to emerge as a real, active, loving worldspace of real people, let's act like it."

    Here's the link.

    Would love to hear opinions on this.

    Robb
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  •  07-17-2007, 6:44 PM 25924 in reply to 25920

    Re: Integral Life Portal: Real Name Usage


    robb,

    i personally like the idea and the perspective seth takes in recommending it, but i'm sure others have contrary perspectives, so i appreciate your opening this up to the community for discussion, so we can, hopefully, work this out before you take action.

    ralph

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  •  07-17-2007, 6:50 PM 25927 in reply to 25920

    • edison is not online. Last active: 10-18-2007, 8:13 AM edison
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    Re: Integral Life Portal: Real Name Usage

    The premise of being identifiable and therefore accountable cuts both ways, in my opinion.  Yes, in many ways it would lead to more civil interactions.  In many ways though, I think it could also lead to inhibition of trying on multiple and/or more encompassing perspectives.  A real life example is that I work for a military contractor.  If I talk of my experimentation with entheogens, I risk losing my job.  (Many companies are now cross indexing My space sites and employee names to minimize situations that could hurt the perception of the company.)  So I believe we should try to leave a bit more room for the community members to expand there identities, rather than constrain them to what they have in "meat-space."   Perhaps a middle path solution would be start everyone with their given name and after a sufficient number of posts (post points) and demonstrated good behavior they can become the community member formerly known as Prince, or whatever else inspires them.

    Many member ID's are a story waiting to be told.  For example, what inspires evansridge, Robb?


    Brian
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  •  07-18-2007, 8:18 AM 25961 in reply to 25920

    Re: Integral Life Portal: Real Name Usage

    Hi Robb

    Yes, sound slike a great idea.

    We had a conversation on a very similar theme on the IIzaadz pod that may be of interest to you.

    http://pods.zaadz.com/ii/discussions/view/156468

    Although it was about people not posting pictures of themselves rather than names, it was the same idea - a striving for greater authenticity and intimacy.

    Ewan


    www.ukinext.com
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  •  07-18-2007, 9:39 AM 25971 in reply to 25920

    Re: Integral Life Portal: Real Name Usage

    Hi Robb,

    I like the idea.  In fact, I've wanted to change my user ID to my real name for some time for the same reasons you mention.  I just have been too lazy to figure out if that is possible.  I started by using my Bodhisattva name because I felt that participating in the Integral Community was directly related to fulfilling my vow but now I think that using my real name would be better.

     

    Using our real names doesn't mean we can't play.  It is a challenge to be who we really are and to act with integrity and have the balls (gentleness & fearlessness) to actually put ourselves on the line.  Not as furthering entrenchment into our own stuff and proclaiming and defending our territory but as opening up so that we can enter someone else's territory and they can enter ours, so that we can really communicate.  That can be scary and that takes courage but it's also the only truly fun game in town.    

     

    -Jeffrey

     

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  •  07-18-2007, 11:46 AM 25978 in reply to 25971

    Re: Integral Life Portal: Real Name Usage

    I am surprised no one has brought up the very real and very serious privacy issues which come into question when interacting on the internet. Not everyone is comfortable with that reality and understandably so.

    Criminals or frauds, or even just trolls and spammers, etc. are all individual human beings operating with -at a minimum-very low, preconventional moral development. There could be a number of other factors involved also -preconventional interpersonal skills as one more example. The types of problems the internet affords preconventional development can not be solved in this way. In at least one respect, rather, it may only afford those types of individuals more leeway for potential abuse. Everyone might not be comfortable that anyone in the world can Google their name and discover relatively private and personal information about them, who they're talking with, what they're saying, when exactly and at what time they were saying it, etc. - and all of this without ever being seen or noticed.

    Trust is a LL inter-subjective affair and as in life in this environment -which has various pros and cons of it's own regarding communion - is built up and shared between individuals over time.

    There is another factor here as well.

    Many individuals who are attracted to this community are simply no longer comfortable with display of what they percieve to be their ego in any way. This might be subtle but it's true. They are simply not comfortable with the open and public display of "me" - this is self-consciousness, to be sure, but it is self-consciousness in the most evolved post-post conventional sense.

    There are a number of ways that one rule like this applied to all may in fact turn out to be far less than Integral.

     

    One perspective.

     

    Tim


    "With whom or with what are you in communion at this moment?"
    . . ."I?" he replied, almost mechanically. "Why not with anyone or anything."
    "You must be a marvel . . . if you are able to continue in that state for long."
    -Constantin Stanislavsky
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  •  07-18-2007, 3:42 PM 25987 in reply to 25920

    Re: Integral Life Portal: Real Name Usage

    I am for the idea, at least in principle. The one concern that I think might have some validity are the issues around personal security and vulnerability. What are the personal risks involved? Should we need to worry about the possibility of one forum member getting so mad at another that they decide to actually go after them?  Or, what about the possibility that someone from outside the community, say a member of militant religious group, comes across a posting that is interpreted as heretical, and decides to come after the poster? Are these fears well grounded, or are they being paranoid?

    An online community has qualities that distinguish it from a regular comunity, qualities that are both it's strengths and its weeknesses. There's the fact that when you speak here, you're words are recorded, set down in time, for all to read now and in the future. Then there's the fact that we're missing all the standard facets of human interaction that we habitually use to understand each other, facial expressions, tone of voice, the look in their eye. So it is easy to misunderstand each other. The plus side of both of these is that they force us, or should, to really think about what we are saying before saying it.

    I for one am ready to take the risk of sharing my name and location, and everytime I post here I do so with the awareness that anyone who wanted to could easily find me in the flesh. And also that anyone who knows me would recognize who I am if they saw my postings here. I will say too that the way so many people use handles instead of full names in this forum and others has always been a very real barrier to me wanting to participate. I've been a member if IN for a number of years, but posted for the first time only recently. Lack of names wasn't the only reason - mainly I didn't have time, was too exhausted, was not willing to make myself vulnerable, etc. - but it was a factor in my not being motivated to make the effort. (For the record, I've got a lot of free time on my hands today, and I'm going through something of a personal crisis, and I'm hoping that being active in this community will help me as I work through it.)

    (EDIT: I see my profile indicates I've been a member since 11/4/2006, not the "years" I claim above. The explaination for this I think must be that I let my membership slip between the time one credit card expired and I made payment with another.)

    One option might be to continue to allow people to use handles, but to require that their real names and locations are available (to other members only) perhaps in such a way technologically that Google would not be able to find them.

    Thank you, Robb, for bringing this question to the community.

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  •  07-18-2007, 8:36 PM 26000 in reply to 25987

    Re: Integral Life Portal: Real Name Usage

    Ditto.  Thanks Robb.   I was going to respoond when you first put it out with a one liner.  "I am for that !"  And then I decided I would see what was said first. and then these obvious points were brought up.    Where are the lawyers?    Maybe we can say we are protected by   yada yada yada.    Pattye.
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  •  07-18-2007, 9:25 PM 26002 in reply to 26000

    Re: Integral Life Portal: Real Name Usage

    (So let me first say that I plan on bringing more of these types of questions to the community as Integral Life gets past the planning and into the hard structure stages, which is what we've just entered recently.  Lots of questions and only well-educated guesses for answers, there's a reason we are conceiving the new portal as a place where the conversation around a grand inquiry begins, not ends (namely, "what does it mean to live an integral life?").  Not only are you invited to the conversation, you are the conversants!

    Second, Evans Ridge Estates is the name of my subdivision, don't know why I used that as a login, I guess because it was memorable and I figured few folks would have it.)

    On to the meat of the matter:  the reason I think this question is absolutely critical to this community is that it is, in my mind, a total proxy for the authenticity sought in this community.  It is vital to understand that Integral Life is being formed to be a real, vibrant, meaningful community of integral people worldwide.  And participation in this community very much comes with a social contract.  Through my position I will help moderate the formation of that social contract, but ultimately it is the participants of the community that define the contract and through adherence give it legitimacy.  So if on average the community wants a social contract that states "you can be a member of the community as long as you engage in communion, connection and communication in a manner befitting a real human to human interaction," than there will be mechanisms to achieve that (e.g., the present case under consideration).  And obviously the participants can choose to contract for a different context of engagement (I suppose fantasy chat rooms have the exact opposite contract: "Please never use your real names, please never ruin the fantasy!").  But it is critical that we do so, with clear-eyes, head and heart - the Integral Life community, both online and off, will be a reflection of the standards brought to bear thereunder!

    So the point is that we have to take real and liberated responsibility for the meaning that gets made here, and this community is not just confined to an online engagement.  So for me, personally, I have no problem being transparent in my interactions and my identity - if it forces me to remember that this is a community of human beings, and not just digital screen names, so much the better! - and I will accept the downside that those who are not yet ready to engage in community on these contractual terms can just bear silent witness or go somewhere else for anonymity.  If this were a community of neighbors it wouldn't be very meaningful if I didn't know anyone's name, and so I accept that with the naming of a sentient being I also bear a huge responsibility to her for the exercise of care and compassion.  That's a contract I can live with, and it is a community the virtues of which become worthy of my dedication and time.  But I also accept that authentic relationship comes with risk and a "burden" of love and perspective-taking.  But that's why I'm here, I'm ready to care for you and serve you (and myself through you).  The past 7 months of my tenure has made one of my answers to the meaning of an integral life increasingly clear for me: I want to be in authentic communion with an integral community, because I've found a home in integral.  "Come home to an integral life" is something that I just grok, now.

    Robb
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  •  07-18-2007, 11:16 PM 26008 in reply to 26002

    • JulieSmith is not online. Last active: 08-08-2007, 2:22 PM JulieSmith
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    Re: Integral Life Portal: Real Name Usage

    Hi Robb ~

    My strong preference is to honor the impulse in each of us to self-identify in the manner of our own choosing.

    I agree with the ends you are seeking, but not the means.

    I'm struggling a bit with this entire notion of creating a rule about what we can call ourselves. Hmmmmm.... I'm trying to begin thinking more integrally, so let me test this one out and see where it goes....

    Maybe mechanistic kinds of rules work for it/its problems like how to conduct yourself in traffic, but not so well with I/We problems like how to conduct yourself in an online community. Maybe you've identified a real and pressing problem, but have come up with the wrong kind of solution. If that's an approach that might have some merit, the next question would be what kinds of solutions tend to work for I/We problems?

    I hope it goes without saying that I (and I assume others) will appreciate and gladly learn from anyone who can help frame and articulate integral principles more accurately and effectively. Since I've framed this one, let me just say very clearly that I would deeply appreciate alternative ideas about how to frame this. WWKD? :)

    Julie


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  •  07-19-2007, 11:25 AM 26039 in reply to 26008

    Re: Integral Life Portal: Real Name Usage

    Hi Julie,

    I think people's true self-identifing, self-creating is to be found in their posts, not in a digital name they assign to themselves.

    I, We and It arise together. Make a change in one, that change will reverberate through the others. The change to the It that Robb is proposing, while it would not by itself cause people to act from their highest selves, it would, I agree, serve as a reminder to all of us that just that is our intention for this community.

    Here is a question to ponder: What is it about an online community, and this online community in particular, that a privilage fundamental to any traditional community, that of knowing each other's names, should be denied?

    Here's another question: In any traditional community, such as a neighborhood or church, what would you're feelings be toward someone who refused to share their real name? Is there, or should there be, any difference here?

    Don.

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  •  07-19-2007, 1:04 PM 26042 in reply to 25920

    Re: Integral Life Portal: Real Name Usage

    Robb, and everyone

    I don't think displaying full names is the way to go, actually I think it would be very detrimental to the online community.

    The important thing is to have handles that cannot be changed easily (if at all) and that can be invested in. There is already a natural barrier for joining (the monthly fee). The major points that have to be considered when designing a successful online community are listed in the essay A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy, and I've included an excerpt below.

    Also make sure that you have people experienced in running a forum taking part in the process of  designing something new. Otherwise you *will* be making beginner mistakes, and that will just give you a lot of extra work in the future.

    I'm more that happy to give my input or answer questions for I-I based on my experience of moderating IIZaadz.

    All best,

    Pelle





    Four Things to Design For

    1.) If you were going to build a piece of social software to support large and long-lived groups, what would you design for? The first thing you would design for is handles the user can invest in.

    Now, I say “handles,” because I don't want to say “identity,” because identity has suddenly become one of those ideas where, when you pull on the little thread you want, this big bag of stuff comes along with it. Identity is such a hot-button issue now, but for the lightweight stuff required for social software, its really just a handle that matters.

    It's pretty widely understood that anonymity doesn't work well in group settings, because “who said what when” is the minimum requirement for having a conversation. What's less well understood is that weak pseudonymity doesn't work well, either. Because I need to associate who's saying something to me now with previous conversations.

    The world's best reputation management system is right here, in the brain. And actually, it's right here, in the back, in the emotional part of the brain. Almost all the work being done on reputation systems today is either trivial or useless or both, because reputations aren't linearizable, and they're not portable.

    There are people who cheat on their spouse but not at cards, and vice versa, and both and neither. Reputation is not necessarily portable from one situation to another, and it's not easily expressed.

    eBay has done us all an enormous disservice, because eBay works in non-iterated atomic transactions, which are the opposite of social situations. eBay's reputation system works incredibly well, because it starts with a linearizable transaction – “How much money for how many Smurfs?” – and turns that into a metric that's equally linear.

    That doesn't work well in social situations. If you want a good reputation system, just let me remember who you are. And if you do me a favor, I'll remember it. And I won't store it in the front of my brain, I'll store it here, in the back. I'll just get a good feeling next time I get email from you; I won't even remember why. And if you do me a disservice and I get email from you, my temples will start to throb, and I won't even remember why. If you give users a way of remembering one another, reputation will happen, and that requires nothing more than simple and somewhat persistent handles.

    Users have to be able to identify themselves and there has to be a penalty for switching handles. The penalty for switching doesn't have to be total. But if I change my handle on the system, I have to lose some kind of reputation or some kind of context. This keeps the system functioning.

    Now, this pulls against the sense that we've had since the early psychological writings about the Internet. “Oh, on the Internet we're all going to be changing identities and genders like we change our socks.”

    And you see things like the Kaycee Nicole story, where a woman in Kansas pretended to be a high school student, and then because the invented high school student's friends got so emotionally involved, she then tried to kill the Kaycee Nicole persona off. “Oh, she's got cancer and she's dying and it's all very tragic.” And of course, everyone wanted to fly to meet her. So then she sort of panicked and vanished. And a bunch of places on the Internet, particularly the MetaFilter community, rose up to find out what was going on, and uncovered the hoax. It was sort of a distributed detective movement.

    Now a number of people point to this and say “See, I told you about that identity thing!” But the Kaycee Nicole story is this: changing your identity is really weird. And when the community understands that you've been doing it and you're faking, that is seen as a huge and violent transgression. And they will expend an astonishing amount of energy to find you and punish you. So identity is much less slippery than the early literature would lead us to believe.

    2.) Second, you have to design a way for there to be members in good standing. Have to design some way in which good works get recognized. The minimal way is, posts appear with identity. You can do more sophisticated things like having formal karma or “member since.”

    I'm on the fence about whether or not this is a design or accepting. Because in a way I think members in good standing will rise. But more and more of the systems I'm seeing launching these days are having some kind of additional accretion so you can tell how much involvement members have with the system.

    There's an interesting pattern I'm seeing among the music-sharing group that operates between Tokyo and Hong Kong. They operate on a mailing list, which they set up for themselves. But when they're trading music, what they're doing is, they're FedExing one another 180-gig hard-drives. So you're getting .wav files and not MP3s, and you're getting them in bulk.

    Now, you can imagine that such a system might be a target for organizations that would frown on this activity. So when you join that group, your user name is appended with the user name of the person who is your sponsor. You can't get in without your name being linked to someone else. You can see immediately the reputational effects going on there, just from linking two handles.

    So in that system, you become a member in good standing when your sponsor link goes away and you're there on your own report. If, on the other hand, you defect, not only are you booted, but your sponsor is booted. There are lots and lots of lightweight ways to accept and work with the idea of member in good standing.

    3.) Three, you need barriers to participation. This is one of the things that killed Usenet. You have to have some cost to either join or participate, if not at the lowest level, then at higher levels. There needs to be some kind of segmentation of capabilities.

    Now, the segmentation can be total – you're in or you're out, as with the music group I just listed. Or it can be partial – anyone can read Slashdot, anonymous cowards can post, non-anonymous cowards can post with a higher rating. But to moderate, you really have to have been around for a while.

    It has to be hard to do at least some things on the system for some users, or the core group will not have the tools that they need to defend themselves.

    Now, this pulls against the cardinal virtue of ease of use. But ease of use is wrong. Ease of use is the wrong way to look at the situation, because you've got the Necker cube flipped in the wrong direction. The user of social software is the group, not the individual.

    I think we've all been to meetings where everyone had a really good time, we're all talking to one another and telling jokes and laughing, and it was a great meeting, except we got nothing done. Everyone was amusing themselves so much that the group's goal was defeated by the individual interventions.

    The user of social software is the group, and ease of use should be for the group. If the ease of use is only calculated from the user's point of view, it will be difficult to defend the group from the “group is its own worst enemy” style attacks from within.

    4.) And, finally, you have to find a way to spare the group from scale. Scale alone kills conversations, because conversations require dense two-way conversations. In conversational contexts, Metcalfe's law is a drag. The fact that the amount of two-way connections you have to support goes up with the square of the users means that the density of conversation falls off very fast as the system scales even a little bit. You have to have some way to let users hang onto the less is more pattern, in order to keep associated with one another.

    This is an inverse value to scale question. Think about your Rolodex. A thousand contacts, maybe 150 people you can call friends, 30 people you can call close friends, two or three people you'd donate a kidney to. The value is inverse to the size of the group. And you have to find some way to protect the group within the context of those effects.

    Sometimes you can do soft forking. Live Journal does the best soft forking of any software I've ever seen, where the concepts of “you” and “your group” are pretty much intertwingled. The average size of a Live Journal group is about a dozen people. And the median size is around five.

    But each user is a little bit connected to other such clusters, through their friends, and so while the clusters are real, they're not completely bounded – there's a soft overlap which means that though most users participate in small groups, most of the half-million LiveJournal users are connected to one another through some short chain.

    IRC channels and mailing lists are self-moderating with scale, because as the signal to noise ratio gets worse, people start to drop off, until it gets better, so people join, and so it gets worse. You get these sort of oscillating patterns. But it's self-correcting.

    And then my favorite pattern is from MetaFilter, which is: When we start seeing effects of scale, we shut off the new user page. “Someone mentions us in the press and how great we are? Bye!” That's a way of raising the bar, that's creating a threshold of participation. And anyone who bookmarks that page and says “You know, I really want to be in there; maybe I'll go back later,” that's the kind of user MeFi wants to have.

    You have to find some way to protect your own users from scale. This doesn't mean the scale of the whole system can't grow. But you can't try to make the system large by taking individual conversations and blowing them up like a balloon; human interaction, many to many interaction, doesn't blow up like a balloon. It either dissipates, or turns into broadcast, or collapses. So plan for dealing with scale in advance, because it's going to happen anyway.


    http://pelle.zaadz.com/
    http://malmointegral.blogspot.com/
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  •  07-19-2007, 4:39 PM 26056 in reply to 26002

    Re: Integral Life Portal: Real Name Usage

    I find this post very inspiring.  Well done and well said.  Good, True, and Beautiful.  A clear call from the authentic self and integral heart.

    Count me in.

    -Jeffrey

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  •  07-19-2007, 9:58 PM 26075 in reply to 26042

    Re: Integral Life Portal: Real Name Usage

    pelleB:
    I don't think displaying full names is the way to go, actually I think it would be very detrimental to the online community.

    Pelle, Would you please tell us why you think showing full names would be so detrimental to the online community?

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  •  07-19-2007, 10:47 PM 26077 in reply to 26075

    Re: Integral Life Portal: Real Name Usage

    hi all,

    i think robb has made a good case for real name usage. what, afterall, are the objections?
    brian:
    A real life example is that I work for a military contractor. If I talk of my experimentation with entheogens, I risk losing my job.
    brian, do you mean you signed an agreement not to talk about such things? if so, to talk about this incognito on i-i forums could easily reflect badly on i-i. if not so, then i don't think you should be afraid to exercise your constitutional rights. if we lack such courage, then our rights become meaningless.
    timelody:
    Many individuals who are attracted to this community are simply no longer comfortable with display of what they percieve to be their ego in any way. This might be subtle but it's true. They are simply not comfortable with the open and public display of "me" - this is self-consciousness, to be sure, but it is self-consciousness in the most evolved post-post conventional sense.
    tim, this is unfortunate. one of the consequences may be that they don't even post, which is a loss to all of us, and they appear to me to be creating an unnecessary shadow by so repressing their egos.
    julie:
    My strong preference is to honor the impulse in each of us to self-identify in the manner of our own choosing.
    i think most of us would agree, within limits. robb is recommending what i feel are constructive limits. if we each insist of being allowed to do whatever 'i want', then it's unlikely we will be able to build an integral community.

    pelle, adding on to don's question for you, robb has been saying real name, not full name. pelleB, for instance, is a wonderful, real name Smile [:)]. he's also left some wiggle room in other ways, enough to allow all of us to work constructively with him, if we're willing to, imo.

    ralph

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