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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Does this make me a bad person?

I know someone from grad school who has a blog. She's a luminous, shiny superstar of a scholar (not in my field, thank God!), who I doubt actually knows my name and who I'm quite sure does not read my blog. I don't usually read hers, either, as her blog voice irritates me--but every couple of months I run into her in the comments sections of other people's blogs, usually in long, well-intentioned remarks where she's nevertheless totally misread the problem or opinion expressed by the blogger and jumped in with advice inappropriate to the blogger's actual circumstances.

But here's the thing: she hasn't protected her Sitemeter. So whenever I venture over there I can't help but check out her hits--how many, where they come from, etc. (Her blog, which is very focused in its subject matter, is pretty well-known in the circles relevant to it; although she has few commenters, she's got approximately 60% more hits per day than I do.)

I'm not sure why I find snooping around in her blog so compelling, though it's true that I AM a zealous amateur detective--I just like to know things! I like to have information! Maybe I shouldn't tell my blog audience this, but I've figured out, sometimes with considerable effort, the identities of many of the bloggers I read, simply because I can't not know who some of my favorites are. I don't actually do anything with this information, rest assured--I just like to be able to put names and locations to the personalities I encounter. (And should anyone care to do the same with me, they certainly could, as I'm too lazy or too indifferent to protect my pseudonymity with any real diligence.)

What's odd about this is that I'm not the kind of person who snoops around in my host's medicine cabinets or dresser drawers when I visit, and I'm not even that much of a gossip. . . but I guess that I AM a researcher and a puzzle-solver by temperament. Partial information is just too tempting for me to pass by. I want all the details--preferrably, a full file drawer's worth of them!

link | posted by La Lecturess at 11:17 AM |


Anonymous New Kid on the Hallway commented at 12:02 PM~  

I totally do the same thing!

Blogger luckybuzz commented at 12:11 PM~  

Wow, I totally don't do that, but now I can't believe that I don't!

Blogger Yr. Hmbl. & Obdt. commented at 2:26 PM~  

Well, I *would* say that "yes, yes you're a *terrible* person for doing this"--but clearly you're capable of tracking me down and stealing my identity and plunging me into a Hitchcockian nightmare--so, "No, not at all--you're just being, um, scholarly."

Blogger Ianqui commented at 4:08 PM~  

You have every right to try and figure out someone's identity. It's the internet, after all. People who want to be totally anonymous shouldn't bother with blogs (or probably with reading them, either).

And in any case, this isn't nearly as bad as a student of mine, who just confessed that he read his kind-of-ex-partner's email when he was over the apartment (which they used to share) the other day. I couldn't believe he confessed THAT to me!

Blogger Dr. Virago commented at 4:27 PM~  

LOL, I *totally* do that! Hilarious! But of course I keep everyone's identity secret, *especially* from non-bloggers.

And btw, I'm *still* trying to figure out who Starlet Star is! :)

Blogger ABDmom commented at 4:40 PM~  

I do this, too. I respect pseudonymous identities, however, especially since I am pseudonymous and wouldn't want to be outed.

And, I'll confess: I was extremely proud of myself for figuring out who Starlet Star was. :)

Anonymous Anonymous commented at 5:15 PM~  

I do the exact same kind of thing, all the time. I am also very expert amateur detective.. although I suppose, being in computers, one might expect it more from me than from you. Also, my support shouldn't necessarily serve as reinforcement that your behavior is *totally normal*, since we did grow up under the same roof.

For me, at least, it's part of being a control freak. I realize that I do things that I wouldn't want others doing to me. For example, I futz with the radio in other peoples' cars while they're driving, but would be annoyed if they did the same to me (although they seem to know me well enough not to!). oh well... carry on! And if you ever need some technical advice, you know who to ask.


Blogger Tiruncula commented at 6:32 PM~  

I do it too - not all the time, but if something, usually something inconsequential, strikes me as interesting about where a blogger is writing from. (E.g. - and I'll confess this because Dr. V confessed here, too - for a while I was convinced that Dr. V must live within blocks of me, because so much about her descriptions of her city seemed so familiar, and I had to find out. Turns out we just live in twin cities - but not Twin Cities!) I find if I successfully snoop out somebody's name, I've generally forgotten it within a few days unless it means something to me from another context.

Blogger La Lecturess commented at 8:32 PM~  

Ooh, it's really reassuring to learn that I'm not the only snoop out there on the internets.

Oh, and Dr. V: if you *really* want to know who SS is, feel free to email me!

Blogger timna commented at 10:50 PM~  

I've also figured out people's names and then totally forgotten them since I wasn't using them or hearing them. Sort of interesting to puzzle out, but then promptly done with.

Blogger Oso Raro commented at 7:55 AM~  

Nancy Drew and the Case of the Bothersome Blogger!

This thread reminds me a bit about the kerkuffle a few weeks ago on IHE about pseudononymous blogging, et al. After my own experience with being semi-outed in a blog I started several years ago (which led to its untimely death by rapid deletion, for which I have to thank the small coterie of noble bloggers who warned me of the impending loss of my anonymity), I think my return to blogging has been more deliberate, both in terms of a projection of psuedononymous identity as well as the realization that one's anonymity is never, completely guaranteed. Blogging is a public practice, after all. But I do think that pseudoanonymity in academic blogging is compelling, as well as telling.

As far as my own Nancy Drew tendencies, I would say that they really don't kick in very much online. I love a secret as much as any other queen, and I think La Lecturess's hypothetical about academia and research being behind the desire to know is pretty apt, but for whatever reasons I tend not to think beyond the web-based presentation. Does this make me a distracted blogger or a sloppy scholar? Perhaps a bit of both. I find it a challenge just to keep up with the volume of what is produced in the academic blogosphere, much less figure out who all these people are.

All of which is to say, in other words, I have no idea who Sexy Starlet or Sassy Starlet or Starlet Stupide, or whatever her name is (here or in real life), is, although I wouldn't mind knowing, if only to read her blog. Come to think of it, I wonder if I'm already reading her blog but just don't know it. The theme of not knowing is running pretty strongly here. Maybe I have given up on knowing in general, like all good postmoderns? :-P

Oh well, what can I say? I finished my taxes tonight ( a decidedly MODERN task) and the mind is blurry.

Blogger La Lecturess commented at 10:18 AM~  

OR: I'm quite sure your lack of curiosity doesn't make you a sloppy scholar--perhaps you're just a scholar with better things to do!

And sorry for the confusion, but Starlet Star isn't the scholar-with-a-blog, but rather an actual movie star, whom I wrote about a month or two ago.

Blogger Oso Raro commented at 1:18 PM~  

La L: Thanks for the generous read. If better things to do includes daydreaming, lurking lustfully around Clarin's counters smelling and touching the magic potions, and listening to too much Ladytron, then I'm down :-)

Funny that about Starlet, Inc. While I understand now the confusion, how apropos a nickname for your academic blogger, from the description. The art of nicknaming, of course, can reveal so much about both the named and ourselves, some sort of fundamental truth either in affection or derision, which is why I use them so frequently on my blog. Which then leads me to think that indeed, the use of pseudonyms and nicknames is actually a tease, a challenge to discover the truth behind the facade, so perhaps in fact I also participate in this delicious game.

Blogger Psycgirl commented at 10:49 PM~  

Knowing I could be figured out makes my stomach churn. I prefer to pretend its not possible.

Of course now you've made me paranoid.

I obviously shouldn't be blogging!

Anonymous What Now? commented at 10:53 PM~  

Here's my blog detective story: I once hunted down clues and had totally figured out who New Kid on the Hallway was. (I've already told her this story, and we've laughed about it.) And once I'd figured it out, every once in awhile there'd be a confirming detail, and I'd be extra proud of myself for having figured out her real identity. So then at some later point she and I were emailing, and she told me who she was, and I'd been TOTALLY wrong! As in wrong school, wrong state, wrong everything. That was pretty much the end of my blogging detective work. I suck as Nancy Drew.

Blogger Psycgirl commented at 1:39 AM~  

What Now you reassured me. I was seriously about to erase my entire blog b/c I Was convinced my school knew who I was and was about to kick me out.....

Blogger La Lecturess commented at 5:23 AM~  

Psycgirl: well, one never *knows*, but I'm pretty sure that no one in your program knows (or cares) about your blog. It always amazes me how many people--even young, hip, technologically aware--have never even read a blog and have no idea about the academic community out there blogging.

So take some comfort in that!

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