Sunday, 16 September 2018

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog

"On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog" is an adage and meme about Internet anonymity which began as a cartoon caption by Peter Steiner and published by The New Yorker on July 5, 1993... As of 2011, the panel was the most reproduced cartoon from The New Yorker, and Steiner has earned over US$50,000 from its reprinting.

Wikipedia: On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog
The cartoon symbolizes an understanding of Internet privacy that stresses the ability of users to send and receive messages in general anonymity. Lawrence Lessig suggests "no one knows" because Internet protocols do not force users to identify themselves; although local access points such as a user's university may, this information is privately held by the local access point and is not an intrinsic part of the Internet transaction.

It also shows how Internet communication is liberated from familiar constraints. Sociologist Sherry Turkle elaborates: "You can be whoever you want to be. You can completely redefine yourself if you want. You don't have to worry about the slots other people put you in as much. They don't look at your body and make assumptions. They don't hear your accent and make assumptions. All they see are your words."

A study by Morahan-Martin and Schumacher (2000) on compulsive or problematic Internet use discusses this phenomenon, suggesting the ability to self-represent from behind the computer screen may be part of the compulsion to go online. The phrase can be taken "to mean that cyberspace will be liberatory because gender, race, age, looks, or even 'dogness' are potentially absent or alternatively fabricated or exaggerated with unchecked creative license for a multitude of purposes both legal and illegal", an understanding that echoed statements made in 1996 by John Gilmore, a key figure in the history of Usenet. The phrase also suggests the ability to "computer cross-dress" and represent oneself as a different gender, age, race, etc. On another level, "the freedom which the dog chooses to avail itself of, is the freedom to 'pass' as part of a privileged group; i.e., human computer users with access to the Internet".

A Personal Observation
The Internet gives us anonymity: the freedom to say or do anything we want without any of the normal constraints, without fear of criticism or condemnation. That freedom can be liberating: We can talk about subjects such as sex and sexual preferences that normally, we repress in everyday life out of worry of getting a negative reaction from a culture which is admittedly sexually repressed itself. That freedom can also be destructive as things come out unchecked by the norms of our society, politeness and respect, disparagingly referred to as being politically correct: sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, anti-immigration, anti-science, etc. Trolls and trolling are the Internet at its worst.

Wicked Thoughts
In 2006, AOL released on the Internet a single compressed text file containing twenty million search keywords for over 650,000 of their users. The purpose was to generously contribute to the scientific community for research purposes.
[This] was the opportunity to see unfiltered what people were searching for on the Internet. This was a chance to see, truly see, what people were interested in. Think about it. Anything we say is governed by what we think others may approve of or criticise. Consequently anything we do is very much affected by our environment. But with this data, you had people typing search keywords in the (mistaken) impression no one was watching; that it was totally anonymous. So let's ask the question. If you sit down at a computer to search for anything anonymously - yes, nobody will ever know - just what are you going to look at? This is it; nobody will ever know. Type in anything your little heart desires.

[The book] entitled "A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World's Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire" by the authors Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam delves into this AOL data and apparently other similar information to investigate just what we are interested in, truly interested in when it comes to sex.

The Top Five Interests
While the authors found an instance of just about anything and everything, they discovered there are 20 sexual interests which account for 80% of all porn. The top five searches are youth, gay, sexy mothers, breasts and cheating wives.

my blog: Sex: A billion wicked thoughts - June 24, 2011


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