Elliotte Rusty Harold is right that anonymity goes together with freedom, and I was happy to read his excellent posting How to Blog Anonymously. Rusty distinguishes three different kinds of anonymity — roughly “I don’t want to be embarrassed”, “I don’t want to be fired”, and “I don’t want to be hauled out of my bed by the secret police and shot” — and talks about the steps necessary to achieve each one.
Granted, anonymity has its ugly sides, like the disgusting online threats against Kathy Sierra and online abuse of Maryam Scoble, but it’s also sometimes the only conduit around the abusive authority of a government, employer, or even one’s peer group. As even Western democratic governments have become more authoritarian since 9/11, keeping these conduits open is more important than ever.
Granted, 99% or more of anonymous information is simply stupid or malicious, but if that’s the cost of freedom, it’s a relatively small cost to pay compared to the sacrifices our ancestors made to win us the freedoms in the first place.