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What’s In A Name? Anonymity, Then and Now


“Anonymity” is a much-ballyhooed buzzword. But the complex issues of anonymity and authorship are far from unique to the Internet age. We’ve been here before.
Turn back to 17th century Europe, when publishing was a less-than-classy enterprise. How uncouth! Still, anonymous works were circulated and reviewed. There was authority without authorship, engagement without ego. But after the French Revolution, an “Age of Personality” was born. We’ve still basking in it.
Of course, it's more complicated these days. Anyone can slap a name on a blog post. But one can also eschew authorship. Pseudonymous posting is de rigueur because technological platforms make it easy, and the Supreme Court has continuously protected anonymous speech. But for how long?
Nabiha Syed, a First Amendment lawyer, and Katie Engelhart, a historian and author, will explore historical norms alongside today’s pitched battle over real-name policies. What space do we have today for the ever-prolific Anon?