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Urge to destroy world rising.

I just had a big argument with my mother surrounding my openness online.

The "order a site" form for Architechies has a question about the Whois record. For those who don't know about this particular aspect of the Internet, "whois" is a database that matches domain names to their owners. Its records, which are all public, include personal contact information, such as a street address, phone and fax numbers.

As an example of the sort of information normally included in a whois record, I included a (condensed) sample in the form, consisting of part of the architechies.com record:

Royal-Gordon, Brent  brentdax@cpan.org
31 Bloomdale
Irvine, California 92614
United States
9497867425      Fax -- 
Mom blew up when she saw that.

She apparently is worried that Scary Stalkers will find my whois information, realize that I'm her son and probably live with her, and work from there. She's slightly justified in this concern--she's received fanmail from prisoners, after all. Doesn't mean I'm not pissed that her job is intruding on my desire to be open.

She thinks that my openness is out of immaturity--that I don't realize the dangers of people knowing my street address. And perhaps that's true, because I can't see any danger. I don't make enemies, online or off. Moreover, it's hardly difficult to find it through other channels, and whois is far more obscure than most methods.

For my first few years online, before and to some extent during my high school career, I kept a very modest presence online. I was very careful with contact information; I adopted a pseudonym to keep my identity safe. Giving Darci my telephone number and street address was a big decision at the time. Mostly out of naivete and my slightly bizarre desire to do "what's right for the network", I entered my real name and contact information into LaurenRoyal.com's whois record, figuring that I could keep "Brent Royal-Gordon" from being easily linked to "Brent Dax".

But in the last two years, I've grown comfortable online. "Brent Dax" started to have a (small) reputation in the Parrot development community. He also had a presence in other places online. Sometime during eleventh grade, I started to think about dropping the pseudonym; I eventually decided to do so when I turned eighteen.

I got involved in Megatokyo, and started giving out my contact information to online friends. That, more than anything else, made me more open; when I registered brentdax.com, I gave it full, correct whois information.

When I turned eighteen, I didn't drop "Brent Dax" as planned. That sort-of happened when I switched to Thunderbird a week or so ago--all my e-mail now goes out as being from 'Brent "Dax" Royal-Gordon', except for business e-mail, which is sent under my real name.

So, anyway, today Mom found out about all this. We bickered heatedly about it, but finally I changed my information to list my family's PO box and the business phone number. She also got me to mask out the last four digits of the number on that page.

The last bit seems absolutely useless to me; the first merely chafes badly.

I do see her side, but this really bugs me. Really bugs me.


( Read 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 29th, 2004 11:29 pm (UTC)
Believe me, I know where you're coming from. My mother and grandmother are both convinced that my trust in Scott and Sheldon comes not from a long-time friendship, but from my ignorance of the fact that America is a big scary place full of bad people.

Gran has been slipping me various articles, including one about how black slavery is still alive in some state or other (I think it was Alabama, but don't quote me on that). I asked her how this was relevant to me, as a *white* girl planning to go to a completely different state. She said that it was just to show America was not the happy safe place that my "friends" wanted to convince me it was. Uh... okay.

I've also made it a point not to give out any more personal information online than necessary, though I dropped my last name because I don't really like it, not for security reasons. And as the December crisis shows, not even all the people I trust working together can find me in an emergency, so I think I did a pretty good job at concealing myself. :)
Feb. 29th, 2004 11:59 pm (UTC)
Actually, America is a big scary place full of bad people. Just look at the people we call leaders and celebrities. With role models like those, it's a wonder this country isn't more fucked up than it already is.
Mar. 1st, 2004 09:34 am (UTC)
Y'know, although I largely agree with you on this, I do sorta see your mother's point. There are all kinds of crazy whackos on the internet, and everywhere else for that matter.

I should know, I am one.

Dunno about Scary Stalkers, as I've never encountered one, but that might just mean that they're really good at it. So I'm drawing no conclusions.

Er, in any case. I generally don't use my own name as a handle for reasons of disbelief and/or ridicule, so whatever works. While you could stop using your real name online right now and never use it again and stop posting accurate details and whatnot I'm fairly certain that by this point there's enough stuff online already to find where you live and who you are and suchlike anyway. So yeah, now I've gone and confused myself with my own counterargument to my original argument.

Anyway, just do what works and remember...

*spooky voice* I knooooow where you liiiive *spooky handgestures*
( Read 3 comments — Leave a comment )