Recent events from the political and violent (protests in the Middle East and North Africa, and now riots in England) to the innocuous (the launch of Google+) have people talking very seriously about the role anonymity, pseudonymity and identity in general play in contemporary culture.
From OWNI, Rise and Fall of the Pseudonym:
Carmela Ciuraru explains that in the mid-19th century this curious phenomenon of pseudonymity reached its highest level, and as in the mid 16th century, it was customary for a text to be published anonymously. It is interesting that the decline of the nickname in the 20th century coincided with the rise of television and film. People had access to the lives of others, it became more difficult to preserve private life - and perhaps even undesirable. In contemporary culture, no information is too personal to be shared (or reappropriated). Reality TV has increased our appetite to “know” famous people, and the authors themselves are not immune against the pressures of self-promotion and personal revelations. We live in an age where, as the biographer Nigel Hamilton wrote, ”the identity of an individual has become the focus of much discussion.”
Image: Masque by 13Moya via Flickr/Creative Commons.