laughing now

figured it out!

So who is laughing now?
ok, so i did not sleep last night because i was hot on the trail of my blogger who’s false identity will remain my secret. it was really quite fun to find her/him, and not hugely difficult. what i am *really* struggling with now, however, is how to write this part of the paper when it will be seen by other people. there are social consequences in the blogosphere to unmasking a false identity and i am concerned for him/her.

 laughing now 2 laughing now 3 laughing now
the paper topic is on identity markers, and those, by definition are not things that occur commonly, especially in combination with each other. by using these markers, it will not be difficult to find the person, but i really don’t see a way around it. i will throw this question out at my departmental presentation today and hope to get some good advise from people who have been doing this a lot longer than i have.
laughingnow
BUT i have to say i *loved* this project! i can so get into linguistic identity markers. i have been working like mad and feel like i have only scratched the surface of this field. i believe this type of analysis has implications beyond forensic linguistics (and i believe is similar to the work of the Dr. Milroy). my first linguistic love really is on the social side of things, and authorship analysis fits nicely into that.
now! on to some results. i had two favorite linking markers in this case. (i don’t believe i am giving anything away through these) the first was the use of ‘teh’. both blogs used this as a marker of emphasis, and could not be attributed to a typo of ‘the’. the next i found through text portrayed graphically. (this is a bit more difficult because it could give a bit too much away…i really need to figure out my ethical standpoint on this) both blogs used similar font and capitalization in graphics found throughout the two blogs to produce non-standard forms of words. the similarities on their own do not add up to much, but the number of similar markers found between these two blogs, added to the small amount of background information i have on this particular blogger, has led me to conclude that i have found the true identity of my phantom blogger. and while this was a fun puzzle to sort out, it has bigger implications, i believe. many people have said that online anonymity is a myth due to IP information, but language can provide an even stronger clue to one’s online identity. we write ourselves into existence online, and it is through those very words that we ‘give ourselves away’. the way we choose to express ourselves is as unique as a fingerprint, and even if we are assuming an alternative identity, our language is too much a part of our unconscious to be able to sustain that ‘false’ identity over time. with a medium such as a weblog, where your identity is built over time, anonymity is difficult at best.