Anonymity and the Wonderfully Bizarre Age of Information

Sat Mar 15 2003 05:26PM -0600

Hmmm. A certain someone is making me wonder what the best way to protect the so-called innocent on a blog. I had a go at preserving anonymity sometime ago, resulting in a completely meaningless post. (Although I do have a vague recollection about what I was trying to say.) So mapping people I know to pseudonyms might not necessarily be the best solution. Too many names to keep track of.

I am contemplating stealing "R"'s solution. Now that I think about it, it's a common way to keep people anonymous in clinical case studies, too. (Like the guy who couldn't forget anything, a guy referred to only as "S".) Just using initials may work, but then again, anyone who knows me well enough will know precisely who I'm talking about.

Speaking of clinical cases, I suppose I could use a particularly heartless shorthand that some of us in the medical field use: referring to people by their conditions. You know, like "Did you examine The Purulent Penile Discharge in room 16?" or even better "See if you can't snow the Schizo down in the E.R." or "I don't understand how Trauma can justify turfing The Status Post Accidental Penile Amputation to us." (OK, sorry, I'll stop with the penis references.) But I have a feeling that my friends (not that they necessarily read this) wouldn't appreciate me having to invent clinical conditions to refer to them. (Especially if I persist with referring to their genitalia.)

Then again, I suppose I can just do what I'm good at, keeping things hopelessly vague.

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