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June 7, 2009
Who the f%^& are you?By Greyhawk
I staggered back to the Underground
Bad form, says I - though so is hiding behind a pseudonym in order to be an obnoxious twit (note I'm not accusing anyone of that motive here). I maintained a pseudonymous blog here for many years and many reasons - at the outset primarily because as a milblogger I practiced more strict OPSEC than what's officially required; for example, someone who knew who I was could determine where I was, from that many other bad things could potentially follow. Bear in mind that was the calculation of a guy who was one of the first milbloggers, entering into an unknown world (and an unknown future at war) - and the handful that preceded me were all pseudonymous, a tradition that continues with the vast majority starting out today.
I'm fine with that - I'd encourage it, even. But beyond potential OPSEC considerations, I tried to write everything I posted as though I were using my real name (as if Osama and your mama were reading is advice I follow and give freely). Part of the reason for that was anticipating I wouldn't be pseudonymous forever - that either by my choice or otherwise (as in the example above) I would one day be known. As things turned out, my choice was the answer in my case, but see Buzzell, Colby, or Beauchamp, Scott Thomas for examples of otherwise. (One of those gentlemen is also an example of a major flub of at least the mama part of the Osama and your mama rule, by the way. The other one got a nice book deal.)
Now you can see and hear "the real me" all over this blog, and find things written under my own name (and citing this site) elsewhere - but "Greyhawk" lives on. He is me, of course, but also better known than I. I can live with that, because I am he and he is me and we are all together. But I suppose that the possibility of living in your own shadow (assuming you draw an audience) is something to consider for anyone - milblogger or otherwise - opting for pseudonymity for the all the right reasons. (Confession: it's also fun to observe the change in facial expressions and response I get introducing myself to people at conferences when after a brief pause I add "Greyhawk from Mudville" to my actual name.)
More here (and thanks again, Glenn, if that's your real name...)
More: Having read some explanations from pseudonymous (non-mil)bloggers for pseudonymous blogging of the "fears for repercussions in my personal/professional life" variety, I must ask the obviously begged question: are you saying people wouldn't like you if they knew the real you - revealed only in your blogging? This implies you've fooled them in the first place...
Or are you saying the blogger you is a fraud? (If that's too harsh a characterization, perhaps that the blogger you is the person you would like to be if only you weren't
I'm reminded too of the accounts I've heard where someone meets a blogger (known for their confrontational on-line behavior) in person and is surprised to discover they're actually rather polite, mild mannered, and soft-spoken. I'm never surprised by that, the behavior of many in the blogosphere is the sort that tends to get you fed your teeth when practiced in the real world.
I understand that "loss of income" is persuasive and that the anonymity of the web can be cathartic for someone whose daily existence is a lie. Hell, I even understand that in a world full of compromise a Walter Mitty-esque existence online - where you're an uncompromising bastion of rock-solid beliefs and personal integrity - is damned attractive. But here's the lesson that should be learned: the internet security blanket does not exist. Outside of World of Warcraft and related sites the internet is not your personal and inviolable Magic Kingdom - it is a virtual extension of the real world, complete with actions and consequences. In many ways it's even more risky to sound off here - where people who couldn't (by lack of capacity or inclination) feed you your teeth in the physical universe won't hesitate to do so in a virtual sense - whether that impacts your "other life" or not.
I prefer things kept civil myself, but then the real world I've lived in for the past several years has included folks who actually wanted to kill me (nothing personal, however) so I tend to be more lover less fighter here - and more interested in avoiding wars than fighting them wherever I may be, and winning them only when I fail.
Maybe that makes me a wimp. If you think so, please let me know - if ever we meet in person.
Complain endlessly about the fact that you don't have free speech. If no one shoots you or locks you in jail, you have free speech. If people call you an idiot, they have free speech too.
Posted by Greyhawk / June 7, 2009 5:39 PM | Permalink
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Hey - I'm a conservative this week!But later on Fox, New York Post columnist Ralph Peters attacked Smith and Herridge for claiming that the shooting “validated” the DHS report. Though some conservatives have concluded that the recent string... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
I like having visitors to my house. I hope you are entertained. I fight for your right to free speech, and am thrilled when you exercise said rights here. Comments and e-mails are welcome, but all such communication is to be assumed to be 1)the original work of any who initiate said communication and 2)the property of the Mudville Gazette, with free use granted thereto for publication in electronic or written form. If you do NOT wish to have your message posted, write "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject line of your email.
Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com