Re: poly: Re: privacy etc

From: GBurch1 <>
Date: Sat May 23 1998 - 06:39:24 PDT

In a message dated 98-05-19 04:37:30 EDT, David Brin wrote:

> I definitely do go into this matter, and I eagerly concede the importance
> of such veils. I also emphasize that they are STRONGER in a mostly-open
> world, because violators of confidentiality should be caught. A client can
> only have faith in his lawyer's reputation for confidentiality if the word
> REPUTATION still has meaning.

There is no question that reputation is central to trust and that transparency
is a central element of trust. However, I see no problem, in theory at least,
to a "spectrum of identity" as the ground upon which reputation is built. In
other words, activities in which reputation is more central correlate to a
higher need for transparency of identity at least. In a world where complete
anonymity is possible, a lawyer or doctor, for instance, will have no use for
anonymity in her professional activities. I see this phenomenon all the time
in the case of my female colleagues when they marry. Maintaining maiden names
is very common in the legal profession because female lawyers are loathe to
lose any of the valuable reputation that is their stock in trade. I believe
one would see an almost linear correlation between maintenance of maiden names
and professional seniority: The longer a woman has been practicing law, the
less likely she is to adopt her new husband's family name.

However, reputation is less important in other activities. A few months ago,
I spent a few hours playing an interactive combat simulation game online. My
reputation as a lawyer was utterly irrelevant to this activity and I adopted
the "nym" of "Julius Seizure" in this gaming environment. Was ANY aspect of
our society's liberty adversely impacted by my adoption of a "mask" in this
> If the world happened to be transfixed with fanatical openness, my
> book would be seen as a tract promoting crypto! But as things are, the
> opposite mania reigns. The Transparent Society only appears 'radically'
> open compared to the lemming-like stampede toward secrecy that seems to
> grip the entire cyber community, in defiance of all history, reason, or
> knowledge of human nature.
> When the kneejerk response to any modern problem is to try somehow
> to prevent other people from knowing things, you know you're dealing from a
> flawed premise, whether the chosen method is law or technology, it boils
> down to the same thing... a technique that can be justified under rare
> circumstances, but which is generally a rather filthy and self-defeating
> habit.

I agree that you do try to take a balanced view in much of "The Transparent
Society", but my rhetoric meter pegged out over the red line when I read this,
David. Long habit causes my output channels to constrict in response :-) I
will have finished your book by this coming weekend and look forward to
discussing it with you then.

        Greg Burch <>----<>
           Attorney ::: Director, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
                   "Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must
                      be driven into practice with courageous impatience."
                              -- Admiral Hyman G. Rickover
Received on Sat May 23 13:42:45 1998

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