A rose by any other name

A rose by any other name

: Identity is an element of trust. Identity is also the keystone in the virtue of the age: transparency. Identity matters.

So it’s good that Duncan Brown Gray Black (I’m still confused) has revealed himself to be Atrios.

If you want us to trust what you say, then the least you can do is put your moniker where your mouth is not only so we know that you stand behind what you say but also so your public can judge what you say in the context of your experience and expertise and perspective.

Note what Glenn Reynolds says about Black today:

I PROMISED HIM THAT I WOULDN’T OUT HIM a long time ago, but now Atrios has been unmasked as a guy named Duncan Black who, among other things, works for David Brock’s Soros-funded Media Matters operation. Nothing wrong with that, but if I were working for, say, Richard Mellon Scaife, I think somebody — like, say, Duncan Black — would be making something of it.

Right. Identity matters.

At the Aspen Institute, various of us said that news organizations should put up bios of their writers (and editors, I’d say) on their web sites so the audience can learn more about them. Identity. Transparency. Trust.

Note also that Amazon has just instituted a “Real Names” program for its reviews. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Earlier this month, the Web retailer quietly launched a new system, dubbed Real Names, that encourages users to append to their product reviews the name that appears on the credit card they have registered with Amazon. A logo saying “Real Name” appears beside such customer comments.

Amazon still allows reviewers to sign their comments with pen names, effectively concealing their identity from other Amazon users. But even these reviewers need to supply a credit card or purchase history. Previously, users could easily open multiple Amazon accounts from which they could post multiple reviews of the same product. The new system is intended to block that practice….

More broadly, the new rules attempt to address a perennial problem posed by the anonymity of the Internet: How to identify people who post comments online, be they would-be book critics or people with a bone to pick about a certain product.

Identity and transparency and trust matter for politicians and for journalists and it especially matters in this personal medium.

We’ve discussed anonymity many times in the comments here so we don’t need to launch that again. I just say again that I give more credence and attention to those willing to put their names behind what they say. And for some of those who return frequently to snipe from behind the veil of anonymity, I have taken to ignoring them.