Identity Theft

Today, I received an email on one of the mailing lists I’m subscribed to entitled, “Identity Theft”. What was particularly interesting about the email was that it said it was from me, yet I had not sent it. Another member of the list had spoofed the sender to make it look like it came from me to help illustrate his point.

I’m used to discussions about identity theft on computer security mailing lists. When these folks talk about identity theft, the concern is about stealing banking information. This was the underlying concern of this email as well, yet what is more interesting is that this email was on a list of group psychotherapists. These folks tend to think of our identities as being more than just a credit card number.

Recently, I heard a discussion on NPR with Danah Boyd. On her website, she identifies herself as “a PhD candidate at the School of Information (iSchool) at the University of California - Berkeley and a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at the Harvard Law School.” I find it interesting that she chooses to identify herself on the website in terms of traditional means of establishing authority. She does have links to Ani DiFranco lyrics at the bottom of the page as an illustration of alternative means of creating identity.

Her “research focuses on how people negotiate a presentation of self to unknown audiences in mediated contexts. In particular, my dissertation is looking at how youth engage with networked publics like MySpace, Facebook, LiveJournal, Xanga and YouTube.”

I’ve often heard her speak and she has made some of the most astute comments I have heard about identity construction online. I’ve often thought about how her work and the work of my friends on the group psychotherapy mailing list intersect, or at least ought to intersect. She notes that teenagers, who are busy constructing their identities online are going through that phase of life where they are just learning about their identities. Whenever I hear her talk about these sort of things, my mind wanders to my friends that are therapists who help people, whether they be teens or other sages, as they struggle to form more constructive identities.

As I read the emails, I scanned various blogs as well. On one blog, the author who referred to herself as a bitchy chick wrote,

I am more than what people portray me to be. I'm more than just purses, shoes and the perfect shade of hair colour. There is a side of me that few will ever know and for now, I intend to keep it that way.

I stumbled across a MySpace page of a 29 year old male who writes, “i always seem to fuck everything up, had so many chances, but never use them. not wallowing in self pity, i must like being unhappy”

Yet these twisted identities aren’t just something we stumble across online. I also listened to an interview with Charlie LeDuff who is out promoting his new book, Us Guys The True and Twisted Mind of the American Man. During the interview, he explored the issues of our economy, our hopes and our dreams and how it affects the identities of ‘Us Guys’.

So, there is a lot tied up in our identities online. Charlie LeDuff gives us some clues. Danah Boyd gives us some clues. We may worry about people stealing the part of our identities that is tied to finances, yet perhaps we should be thinking more about our identities as they affect the way we live our lives and relate to people around us. That is where my friends on the group psychotherapy mailing list come in and I hope many of them spend a little time thinking about the role that the Internet plays in helping people shape their identities these days.

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Random Things

If it wasn’t for National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I might have taken today off and not put up a blog post. But, there is something beneficial about trying to be disciplined in writing, so here is my blog post. It is a collection of random things, of which there are plenty this Thanksgiving weekend.

NaBloPoMo takes its inspiration from National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I wrote my 50,544 word first draft of a novel during the first 18 days of November. I haven’t gone back to start editing it yet. I will start that soon enough. Miranda is back in town for the weekend. Today, she went into New York City to see old friends from camp. She is bringing copies of her novel, Subtle Differences which she wrote last year and published at Lulu press. She will then visit some old friends from school this evening and show them the novel. (If you haven’t gone out and gotten a copy of her novel, please do.) Today’s New London Day has an article about Connecticut participants in NaNoWriMo.

For developments in the Avery Doninger case, I received to emails today. One is the brief that was filed by the defendants. I haven’t read it yet, but people close to the case who have read it suggests that it lacks verisimilitude. Over at the Cool Justice Report, Andy Thibault has an article about Paula Schwartz’s vacation to Aruba postponing an FOI hearing. In other Connecticut news, Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz sent out an email today talking about the success of the “first general election since lever voting machines were decertified in July 2007”. The email also listed the candidates that will be in on the Democratic primary ballot, “Joe Biden; Hillary Clinton; Chris Dodd; John Edwards; Mike Gravel; Dennis Kucinich; Barack Obama; Bill Richardson”

A lot has been going on in Second Life as well. On Monday, I wrote about the latest banking scandal in Second Life. I’ve watched the stock price of LNL fluctuate, and have been buying on the dips. As a general rule, when bad news comes out, people sell in a frenzy. The price drops, and then when people find the news isn’t as bad as everyone feared, the price bounces back. We still don’t know how bad the news about LNL really is, but the price has started to come back and today, Tyrian Camilo wrote a long blog post about the banking scandal and how he dealt with it for his bank.

Also in Second Life, Xavier Mohr announced he was stepping as CEO of Second Life Reports. This brought about a lot of volatility in that stock.

Yet most of my day has been spent dealing with family stuff. It started off by driving Mairead and her friend, Lauren, who is visiting for Thanksgiving to the train station. Then, I dropped Miranda at a friend’s house so she could begin her travels. Next stop was Dick and Leanne’s house. I updated some firmware on my brother-in-law’s computer, tweaked Kim’s phone so she can send text, pictures and videos. Then, it was time of an extended family hike. You can see pictures on my Flickr account.

So, while I haven’t had a lot of time to think out a post shedding any great insights, I’ve sure got a lot of random things to talk about on this day after Thanksgiving.

The Story of the First Thanksgiving

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.

Most of us heard stories of Squanto and the first thanksgiving. Some of us may remember the five kernels of corn that the pilgrims set beside each plate as a reminder of their blessing,

The first kernel reminded them of the autumn beauty.
The second kernel reminded them of their love for each other.
The third kernel reminded them of their family's love.
The fourth kernel reminded them of their friends...especially their Indian brothers.
The fifth kernel reminded them of their freedom.

These are the stories of the First Thanksgiving, but each one of us has Thanksgiving firsts as well. I grew up in Massachusetts and my ancestors, while I don’t know of any that came across on the Mayflower, I know that quite a few came on boats that followed soon after. The stories of Thanksgiving are in my DNA.

We never had a lot of money growing up, but Thanksgiving was always a special day. We would have a big feast, and my memories of the day are all very pleasant. Sure, there may have been family conflict, but it was never apparent to me, or if it was, it was the simple fighting between siblings that went on every day.

It wasn’t until years later that I visited other families at Thanksgiving, where the day seemed to be more about parades and football games and the kick off of the holiday shopping season, that I discovered the conflict that many families experience on this and the following days.

Years later, as I went through a painful divorce, I discovered what it means to be adopted as a stray during Thanksgiving by a loving couple from church that wanted to make sure I had a place to go on such an important day, when my family was imploding.

The next year, as I picked up the pieces, I had another first, the first and only Thanksgiving Dinner I ever ate in a restaurant. The mother of my new love had just died two and a half months earlier. For my new love, like for myself, Thanksgiving dinner was a sacred time of gathering with family, and with the cornerstone of her family gatherings now missing, and before she had transformed to become the new cornerstone, we were both drifting and a Thanksgiving Dinner at a restaurant seemed like the best we could manage.

The days have come and gone. Every Thanksgiving Day ends up being a bit different. This year Mairead brought home her best friend from school to join us for dinner. Yet with each Thanksgiving being different; a first Thanksgiving in its own right, the five kernels remain and I look out the window at the beauty of God’s creation, I think about the bounty we have received from God, even though it sometimes feels like we’ve been getting by on five kernels of corn and the next harvest seems uncertain, I think about the family, friends, neighbors, and strangers that have helped us on our way, and I savor the freedom we have to enjoy all of this.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

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Educational Opportunities in the Second Life Stock Markets

Some people view Second Life as a game. Some think of it as the next generation browser. Others look at the business opportunities in Second Life, and still others focus on the educational opportunities in Second Life. All of these views can be seen in the way people relate to the stock markets in Second Life.

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Wordless Wednesday - Gozzi's Technicolor Turkeys

Turkeys at Gozzi's Farm, originally uploaded by Aldon.

Turkeys at Gozzi's Farm, originally uploaded by Aldon.

Turkeys at Gozzi's Farm, originally uploaded by Aldon.

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