Author Archives: Elizabeth Wetton

Anonymity, Pseudonymity, and Identity

I spent many years in academia and schooling, maybe a few too many. Over the course of my education, I had far too much time to over-think sociological and philosophical topics. Because of this I wrote several essays trying to solve nearly impossible problems. In my head, problems relating to mundane social interaction, international relations, and social power dynamics, were all easily solved in under 10 pages. I thought every problem had an easy solution that millions of people, most more experienced than me, were simply ignorant to.

In one of my undergrad essays, for a course on Political Cosmopolitanism, my thesis claimed that anonymous communication was a relevant force in the internet age for removing one’s identity and equalizing the power gap between all participants of a conversation. The essay used examples from Reddit and 4chan, and discussed how anonymity reduced every social actor in a conversation down to one “meaningless” mass of non-identity. A user could be talking to anyone, and they needed to adjust the way they communicated accordingly. This was a superficial argument, it did nothing to address social power, privilege, and identity politics. I lacked the necessary research and experience to know why I was wrong, and my naivety still haunts me.

As an effort to redeem myself, I would like to use this week’s article to argue with my stance from 3 years ago, and once again explore the concepts of anonymity, pseudonymity, and identity.

“The Great Equalizer”

When discussing anonymity, I am referring to sections of the internet where “real names” are avoided, whether it be a choice to allow users to post without an identity or a choice of their own screen name. For a long time, these two were the de-facto naming policies of websites.

Both anonymity and pseudonymity allow a user to define themselves by their words and their actions rather than by their perceived identity. The assumption is that without clear attachment to a physical body and a name, an individual will be more free to speak their mind since an unpopular opinion carries no social consequences.

With anonymity, there is no permanence to an individual, hence a user could be talking to anyone. Users will adjust their attitude and speech accordingly, and because nobody knows the identity of other users it is difficult to be prejudiced another individual based on their gender, sexual orientation, race, national identity, etc. In theory, that is how it is supposed to work.

With pseudonymity, individuals can be identified and given prominence but they are not identified by their actual body. They could simply create a mask to hide themselves in plain view. It is not necessarily a perfect system but it is seen as a happy compromise between strict naming policies and anonymity.

It is a great equalizer because no “real identity” is known. Online representation can never be concrete, because every user knows that others can chose their personas freely – and simply reset their presence as needed. Words are ultimately what defines an individual – whether it be for a moment via anonymity or, with pseudonymity, a presence that emerges more than once. These systems provide a theoretical meritocracy and utopia for those who believe in this system – a libertarian sandbox where everyone is supposedly as equal as anyone else.

“The Unintentional Oppressor”

In my youth, I thought these were positive qualities. If you were a marginalized individual, or did not hold a mainstream opinion, you could speak your mind freely with little fear that someone will find and use those words against your “real identity.” I was not wrong in thinking that these these systems has positive attributes, but I erred when seeing the notion of “free speech” as a positive in and of itself. At its best, free speech is an inconsequential concept, while at its worst a dangerous one. The most obvious problem is that anonymous users have a penchant for abusing their anonymity. Whether found through stalking, death threats, trolling, and hate speech, if someone’s “real identity” is found out, anonymous users will show no remorse. If someone is not part of the homogeneous white mass, if they do not look like the others users, they will be told how “wrong” they are, repeatedly, and in a handful of violent ways. Having a system where everyone can “speak their mind” never becomes inclusive, and is nothing but a reinforcement of the status quo where those willing to abuse those privileges will be given the power to do so with the tacit approval of the majority.

Despite the claim that nobody has a “real identity,” most users assume that any other user falls into a status quo. The common belief is that every others user automatically falls into the demographic that holds the most power: cis, white, heterosexual, and male. This presumption must persist for the system to work, because any identity that exists outside of it changes the dynamics of conversation. When it is assumed that everyone shares an equivalent identity, it is more easy to believe that the power dynamics present in society have been erased. This is not egalitarianism, because it assumes everyone belongs to the same privileged group. No other types of people exist until they make themselves known. For example: there are no girls on the internet until there is a girl on the internet.

Therein lies the ultimate problem: these systems would only ever work if the users actually respected the ideals that came with anonymity and pseudonymity. When an individual exposes their real identity, especially one that does not fit within the status quo, users often try to violate that individual’s privacy. One needs to look no further than victims of the online hate campaign, GamerGate. If one user suspects another of being a girl, they might hound them relentlessly and try to force them to confirm that they are not part of the status quo. The user in question may be demanded for pictures proving that they are a girl, subject to random skype calls, or messaged direct sexual harassment. The phrase “tits or GTFO” is not limited to 4chan – it is the common internet experience on women everywhere. Anonymous users often feel entitled to proof without giving any context or concrete reason for why they cannot believe another human being at face value. (p.12) It is either “prove you are who you say you are,” or be seen as a liar. For one to confirm they hold the identity they say they do, they need to sacrifice their anonymity and pseudonymity – which makes them even more vulnerable to harassment.

When one is exposed as not being a cisgender heterosexual white male, they become an easier target for online attacks; which are a frightening prospect. Since the system is based on the premise that every user belongs to the same demographic, they often defend the abusers, deny the abuse, and then blame the victim when they are exposed. Abusers try to argue that individuals who are not anonymous are public figures, while being protected by their peers fighting for an irrelevant ideal. Anything goes, and nobody is responsible.

Towards a workable future.

While these systems are incredibly far from perfect, they are not without redemption. It will require effort on the part of developers and moderators to make better. For example, a system could track users on the back-end while allowing anonymity and pseudonymity to remain as a staple of user to user interaction. Much of the problem with current moderation policy is the misguided belief that these anonymous social interactions are self-regulating. This claim has been proven false, time and time again, and one needs to look no further than 4chan and Reddit to recognize it. Whether or not the users like it, moderation needs to be active, hate speech rules need to be enforced, and criminal activity and threats need to be taken seriously. If moderators kept at it, they could create safer and more inviting message boards.

There will be a backlash at first, but the era of the “community driven and abused” internet needs to end before message board administration commit to more drastic to more draconian policies that are even more harmful to marginalized individuals. I know users will scream out “1984! Big Brother!,” but if 4chan and Reddit continue to gain a harmful reputation as safe-havens for terrorists, racists, and misogynists, more extreme options such as “real name” policies will continue to gain clout. Communities have proven unable to govern themselves, so moderators need to step up and enforce those communities – or slowly watch the notion of anonymity disappear entirely in favour of “real name” policies.

Roleplay as an Identity Formation Sandbox

To kick off the creation of our new section, I wanted to write something a bit more personal than we’re used to publishing on Inatri. Something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a long time, and something I find absolutely fascinating, is the notion of identity formation. A lot of you know my identity or aspects of it: I’m a feminist, I’m a transgender woman, I’m a fan of Gundam, prior to Gamergate I would’ve called myself a gamer, but very few of you know how I reached those conclusions and which ones I tout as being more central to my identity than others.

Your identity, as it appears to others, is very superficial. It’s an identifiable way to categorize others and form an opinion on them based on tidbits of information you know about this person. We share an identity, therefore, I can relate to this person and discuss this aspect of my identity.

However, to all individuals, identity tells a story about you, you who are as a person, and how you developed. In high-school, my favourite band in the world was Cursive. You may pass this off as emotional indie-rock trash, you may hate Tim Kasher, but in 2003 every Cursive song held this incredible significance to me that I cannot explain, and that all started when an old friend of mine lent me The Ugly Organ.

It should be said that I don’t hold this identity as very important anymore, it’s an illustration of how seemingly insignificant parts of someone’s identity can be exaggerated and given incredible importance by an individual. It’s just some band out of Omaha NE., yet 16 year old me thought their music was amazing. Perhaps it was because 16 year old me was trying to figure herself out, where her place was in the world and what “Elizabeth” stood for as an individual.

At the time, she wasn’t “Elizabeth” but she would arrive to that conclusion. Working through different identities and struggling to choose which ones fit her and which ones did not was part of her 16 year old experience, but it was a process that largely took place in the public sphere and that’s the problem. While most kids at her high-school were socially liberal and are absolutely supportive of her now, she was still 16 and it was still a Catholic high-school.

To arrive at Elizabeth she needed a process of identity formation that was away from the public eye. Some place she could play with more taboo identities and figure out what those identities meant to her. 16 year old Elizabeth needed roleplaying.

Learning to Break Norms

I’m certain you’re all aware of role play in some capacity, whether it be hardcore pen and paper roleplaying, adult role play, or you remember playing make-believe as a kid, it is an element of our learning and socialization as human beings. It is an important enough element to play an intrinsic party of many sociological and psychological theories of development, most notably George Herbert Mead. Mead theorized that children first learn about the world around them through the lens of play. As a child grows they begin to understand not only what actions are befitting of the character they represent in the role play, but what social expectations are placed on them in society. Mead calls this “the generalized other.”

If a child plays house and they embody a role, they begin to form an opinion on what is expected of that role and what society expects of that role. Young Elizabeth playing house learns what it means to be a mother in her society. Her interactions with others telegraph to her what society expects of other roles as well. This is all well and good, but the problem with the generalized other, and the problem with limiting role play to younger ages, is that our perceptions of roles are so strictly dictated by expectations of society, it just goes to enforce norms.

Maybe in a few years time a child could play house and have a more fluid concept of what each role should be, but currently you’d find very few children playing house that have a transgender or non-binary character, have a house with a gay relationship, have a game where work is not divided into domestic and public. Roleplaying at a younger age helps you develop certain faculties, but your development continues well beyond your childhood and your identity continues to form much later. Childhood roleplaying does not help you learn that social norms are there to be broken!

As much as I’d love to call up some of my friends to come play house with me, that is a wildly unrealistic expectation, especially to ask of people who have much more concrete identities than I do. People who would have very little sympathy or understanding of the request. So where did I turn? Video and pen and paper games.

Roleplaying in games helped me realize that I was transgender, helped me come to an understanding of what kind of woman I would be, and gave me a lot of practice interacting with others as Elizabeth. A lot of therapists and doctors place too much emphasis on trans individuals crossdressing or wearing make-up, and while those experiences are extremely important for some trans people, I reached an understand of my trans-ness in a different ways. For me I needed that social interaction, I needed to be treated as a woman before it clicked. My crossdressing never left my bedroom, but when I began experiencing things from a woman’s perspective, I knew that’s who I was.

Identity and Azeroth

What really helped cement my identity was roleplaying in World of Warcraft. I had role played before, hell I was even involved in a shapeshifting forum role play, but I never took full advantage of it. When I started playing WoW in summer 2008, I began rolling up characters of different genders and races. Why? I can’t really remember, but I’m glad I did. It was my Blood Elf paladin woman that really started to change my perception of self because playing as her meant that others would treat me differently; Elizabeth figured out then that it made me nothing but happy to be treated like her. I took the good with the bad and tried not to break role, even when it got exceptionally creepy.

I’ll admit that I was lucky when I moved to the Wyrmrest Accord server. I happened to find a group of friends who were very accepting, and also very good role-players. They knew there was a hard divide between character and individual, but also that one would not exist without the other. Our role play experience became a sandbox where we’d pit aspects of our personalities against each other. Because of this I did get to toy with gender and sexuality in a basically safe environment; I got to play around with aspects of my personality and see which one I most enjoyed being, warts and all.

This self experimentation reached it’s peak when I rolled Nayumi. She was basically a slightly chaotic version of Elizabeth: a soft, emotional, drunk, who tries to have fun and amuse herself so she can hopefully clear her mind of all the negative thoughts she has. She was also trans because at the time I was in my first steps towards transition and I wanted to know how the characters who cared about her, and the people who cared about me, would react to that information and how it might affect individual interaction.

Breaking Character and Breaking Up

The fall of 2012 was an odd point in my life. In October I had started talking to someone on OkCupid who would have a large emotional impact on my life. On-line there was guild drama that culminated into a full split, and the Guild Master quitting WoW and moving to Guild Wars 2. I was in my 4th year of Political Science and extremely stressed out by my schooling and the prospect of moving on to grad school. Lastly, I decided that now was the time I would start my transition; I would start subtly playing with gender, I would break what was my former identity, and once I was graduated, I’d start seeking hormones and the necessary therapy component.

Elizabeth was now my primary identity, but some loose ends had to be tied up. The relationship I was in, however brief, pretty much destroyed me. That’s not entirely her fault, nor is it entirely mine, we just had different ideas of each other in our heads, and the split was not amicable. This coupled with the stress of constantly writing essays and theses, pushed me towards Guild Wars 2 as a much needed escape from the troubles of my physical life. I joined my old friends on Tarnished Coast, which was the unofficial roleplaying server and I’d continued playing around with my identity. This time though, it would not be limited to character role play, but rather my entire existence on that server would be my sandbox and I would play as an out trans woman.

To say I’m lucky does not accurately describe how well that experience went. The more cynical, older me, would have avoided this like the plague. In fact, I do not out myself at all anymore. Maybe because this was a pre-gamergate world and trans women were not seen as “enemies”, but being out as trans on the server got me many friends, most of whom play around with gender themselves, whether they identify as trans or cis, a lot of them opened up to me about how they play with gender, how they perceive gender. In the odd case that a bigot would start hurling abuse at me, many of the players would defend me.

This experience prompted me to come out to my friends finally and begin presenting more feminine in the physical world. I knew that people would support me, even if the majority of people would hate me, fear me, or act awkward around me. I knew I could overcome the shitiness of humanity, because I played this scenario out in games.

Conclusion

While my experience was fairly ideal, role play had allowed me to explore alternative identities to the ones I had been socialized into, and helped me clarify my own identity. As a sufferer of social anxiety, role play created a space where identity could be fluid and tweaked with that was not openly public. The lack of persistence coupled with the pseudonymous nature of online games meant that I wouldn’t have to be worried about my experimentation following me and casting a shadow over any future experimentation or any social interactions I may have offline. Because of this it became the ideal place to come out as trans and gauge reactions before attempting to do so in situations that may have an immediate and drastic effect on my personal wellbeing.

I would recommend young individuals try role playing different identities before decided on a concrete identity, but with a caveat. The way I came to understand my identity requires a lot of privilege. I was given carte blanche to play around with my identity as a long process mostly because I’m a white, secular, middle class, university educated Canadian, who only really associates with the same. I’ve since come out to everyone important in my life and not one hasn’t, at least, feigned support for me. This is privilege. While my experience has actually been really amazing, unless you’re coming out to my exact friends and family, I fear that your experience may be wildly different.

From the Editors: Broadening Our Scope

I’ve wanted to make a post like this for a while. I’ve always enjoyed old editorial style so I want to start a “Letters from the Editor” style blog. Whether it be written monthly, weekly, or sporadically, I want an area for the staff to discuss the “inside baseball” of Inatri. I want a place to discuss our direction, new hires, and various topics related to our project.

As was discussed in our first posts the purpose of Inatri is to document and discuss issues surrounding the complex interaction between groups and individuals. While we plan to continue writing about those topics, we’ve begun to notice a trend in our writing. Having a publication created by, staffed by, and featuring writing from mostly trans writers, means that a lot of our previous discussion intersected with the trans experience in a substantial way. Because of this we want to create a section of Inatri to discuss trans topics.

This means that our topics will expand out of our focus on group interaction into more esoteric topics. Creating discussions will continue to be our central motive, and we will try not to shy away from unpopular opinions and abstract notions. For instance, I personally wish to discuss representation, portrayal, and, identity formation. The first two will be similar to what Inatri has discussed before, however, the third topic is something more personal and will discuss my own identity more personally.

This section would also allow for some creativity in writing and I’m hoping that it would engage the community at large and attract more freelance pitches to Inatri. I’d love to publish more discussions on the source of our identities. I’d love to hire individuals to write about plurality, to talk about otherkin experiences, to discuss medical topics. Basically I’d love to read and publish writing related to sub-communities related to the trans community; I want this section to be a soapbox for the disaffected.

I know my ambitions are a bit lofty, but hopefully the staff at Inatri can make this new section a success and garner a lot of discussion and response from the community. As for these “Letter from the Editor” style posts, I hope to continue writing these . They offer a platform to better explain the staff’s goals and plans for Inatri as well as introduce new hires and upcoming pieces. They may be a little dense, and a little boring, but it’s just another way Inatri wants to bring the community into the discussion.

Getting Only What You Need

Something that has always frustrated me about the Internet is how much data companies require on sign-up and how little privacy there is regarding that data. Name, email, date of birth, country of residence, you can hardly sign up for any service on the Internet without giving some random company the entirety of your life story. This never used to bother me; I used to be a very open person with my information. I was one of those Internet weirdos who, in the web 1.0 era, used her full name.

However, after I came out as transgender my attitude changed. All of a sudden my data was extremely important. Any information I broadcast could be used to target me or identify me as a potential target. This became immediately apparent the first time I was brought into my manager’s office to be told that someone from the Internet had contacted him about me. Whoops, I guess that maybe being open with my data has come to bite me in the ass.

Due to this I’ve become pensive about sign-up forms and online surveys. Why do free and ad supported services want so much of my data? Why would they want to know where I live? I’ve also become increasingly annoyed with the way that companies ask for data. Why is gender choice so limited? Why is race data so Americentric? I’m skeptical of companies that want users to be open with their data, but obfuscate as to why they want my data.

I know I’m not the only individual who harbors these particular concerns either. There have been several high profile examples of data abuse, as well as companies with archaic policies regarding simple collected data. Far too much data is being requested by companies, most of it is bad or unrepresentative data, and most of it is under-utilized. These aren’t difficult problems; they’re solvable if you pay attention to the desires of your users and needs of your advertisers.

Use your words

If you’re designing a tool to collect data in English, lucky you! English is a robust language and there’s always at least a few ways to say the same thing. However, people often forget this and instead rely on the decades old maxim, “Keep it simple stupid,” which is not only ableist but completely wrong-headed in this situation. KISS has its merits in other areas of design but form and survey design, working with data, is not one of these. Lest we forget that some of the simplest designs are the most complex to navigate. Attempting to ask overly simple questions on a form does the same; the problem of bad data doesn’t simply disappear. Use fewer words, but do not boil down complex issues into entry boxes with a single word descriptor, especially if these concepts are defined socially.

If you’re attempting to boil down survey or form answers to one word, you’re essentially subjecting an individual to the textual equivalent of a Rorschach test and trying to pigeon-hole them into an answer defined by the question. “When you look at this amorphous and vague concept, what do you see?” The most important thing is to never forget that race, gender, and, family name, all carry social connotations depending on where your feet are standing in the world. What is “African American” to a “Jamaican Canadian”? What is “gender” to a non-binary individual? What is family name to a Spanish person? Hence if you truly need that information either leave the question more open ended, “What is your cultural background?” or be very specific, “What gender appears on your license?” If these sorts of questions irk you in any way, chances are you have no business asking them in the first place. Surveys looking for census data should leave questions open ended and collate the data later. Forms that have any sort of legal implication should be very specific otherwise you risk having the incorrect information.

Be Transparent

Often I’ll come across a form that gives absolutely no justification as to why they’re asking for information. At it’s purest a sign up form needs two fields: e-mail and password. The email becomes the user id and the password is used to authenticate the user, easy peasy. All information after these two fields is superfluous and often unnecessary. Certainly name and age could be given a pass but most questions beyond that begin to raise red flags as to what a company will be doing with the information. Gender? Why? Will Rdio suddenly block “Ixnay on the Hombre” because I should’ve been listening to “Backstreet’s Back” at the time? Does the Skype app change it’s logo from Blue to Pink? Fuck no.

So why even acquire census information you will never utilize? Certainly, if advertisers are pressuring you, you may have need for this census information. However, if this is the case you’d be better served by stating that plainly to the user. “Yes, this service is funded by ads, that is why your interface will literally be covered in ads, hence we need some demographic information so our advertisers could mis-target you better.” That is all it takes, a small note on the form with an indicator as to which fields will be collated for ad data. Keep in mind the suggestions in the first section about how to phrase those questions but if you must ask them to satisfy your advertisers, do so, and be frank about it, but do not underestimate your user base.

Do not guess

Want to offend someone very quickly? Take wild stabs in the dark at their gender, sexuality, and interests. Come up with an algorithm that uses someone’s speech and topics to attempt to determine their gender and sexual orientation. Make that information available to your advertisers and claim that you have high accuracy when using this algorithm. Sound like a bad idea? Well that is exactly what some services do to get around asking basic census data while catering to advertisers. This is often more offensive than asking questions regarding basic data because it often falls on archaic norms and cultural knowledge than it does on hard data. Especially when built for US-based services, pretending that Silicon Valley’s own cultural knowledge universally applies to anywhere outside of the borders of California, this is a recipe for bad data. California über alles.

Rather than try to be secretive or derive user data through language/topic analysis and divination, it’s far easier to just be upfront with your users. Trying to suss out information via language is Twitter’s answer to “collecting data.” It often misgenders and misidentifies users with almost clock-like precision. From my own experience, there was a month where my gender changed week to week as did the ads. One week it was Tampax and the next it was Glenfiddich. I’m not a genderfluid individual but given the ads that Twitter is feeding me, they have absolutely no idea who I am. Each time it changed, I snapped a screenshot of it and poked fun at Twitter’s poor algorithm. However, the problem is often that topics that aren’t decidedly “female” (e.g., threats to masculinity, feminine hygiene, pink things), are often just labeled as masculine, leading to skewed gender readings. This leaves no middle ground for topics that are gender neutral. All topics must be smooshed into a false binary, and this crap information is fed to advertisers who pay out the ass for this “service.”

This approach, while making the sign up process easier, insults both users and advertisers by providing absolutely unreliable data and feeding that unreliability to the user through mis-targeted ads. It’s often offensive and dehumanizing because it boils people down to data points and tries to rebuild this data into an image of an individual without any concrete vision of the individual. Lastly, it offers the illusion of simplicity while completely and disturbingly overcomplicating the process. It’s an absolutely ridiculous system, especially if this is a pay service that’s being offered. It’s also the absolute nadir of western tech culture, attempting to remove any human interaction and allowing arbitrary data the sole responsibility of determining what a human being is.

Why use a language algorithm when you could simply ask the user what data they’re willing to share to advertisers? Have that information be filled in by the user using optional dialogue on sign up! Is obtaining good census and demographic data really that difficult, given how we have centuries practice in collecting and collating census information? According to the 2011 Canadian Census, 20,535 people in live in the city of Hamilton. 12.8% of the population reported Italian to be their primary language. I could tell you minute data about the city I grew up in, while Twitter cannot tell you your own gender, let alone those of your followers. So tell me, what is the better way to derive information?

Conclusion

Data is what you make of it. Forms and surveys are often one of the few ways you interact with your user base, and the only way you can ascertain reliable demographic information. It may also be the first impression and the start of the trust relationship between the user and the service. Thus a bad sign up form could be ruinous and leave bitterness in the user’s mouth. When you’re going to ask for data remember to in more open-ended ways and do some actual work to collate the data into usable categories. Make sure none of these questions are sensitive or offensive. Make sure they’re not culturally sensitive or ethnocentric. Don’t collect data you will not use. Lastly, don’t underestimate your users or your advertisers. When you can meet those criteria, ask away, I see no problem with these questions provided there is a reason and they are asked tactfully.

If you liked this article, consider reading the related article by Julie Pagano!

Continuance

An audio version of this article is available on SoundCloud.

As is our style, I would like to write a short follow up to the article Genesis by Marie Markwell. It may seem a bit redundant for the staff to expand upon an introduction article, however I believe there are a few things to be said and I wanted to take the first feedback article as an opportunity to say them.

Intentions

First of all, thank you so much for your support and feedback. Projects like this are difficult to gauge initially, so your continued support and interest has only strengthened our resolve and given us an indicator that there is a space, and an audience, for writing about the complex nature of human/company interaction. Obviously this subject is not everyone’s cup of tea, but given how often we rant about these issues, we do have a passion and interest in presenting long-form writing on these topics and others. That said, the staff would like to apologize for the clumsiness of the launch and continued delays.

As stated in Genesis, we plan on releasing Audio versions of the articles alongside the text version. This was the source of the first delay, as the article was ready on Monday, however, it was not complete without that audio version and hence it was delayed until Audacity decided to co-operate. I understand that to some people this may be an insignificant problem to delay the launch of website and the publication of an article, but we believe the audio version to be of equal importance to the text version. I assure you that as we get into the groove of things, things will get smoother and the quality issues with the audio version will be ironed out.

That said, I would like to reiterate our intentions. Genesis was about explaining high-level ideas and giving a general overview of what we intend to be. As alluded to previously, the purpose of this publication is to provide a place for discussion of the (often) problematic business interactions and provide potential solutions to these problems. These interactions may be public interactions such as business-customer relationships, issues of governance, and issues of internal politics and policies that may affect the perception and health of an organization. Hence, we want to lead by example, experimenting in both an alternative governance structure and different mediums to express our ideas.

Governance

I also wanted to expand upon the discussion of our governance model and how Inatri actually functions as an organization. Building on the lessons learned by Gratipay, ATUnit and other projects, Inatri will operate as a worker owned co-op. We expect this method of governance to be fluid and dynamic, changing with the needs of the organization as well as feedback gathered. The short-term goal is to create the simplest, workable co-op set-up possible and then iterate upon that model continuously. We plan on actively soliciting feedback from staff, readers, and contract-based contributors, and this will have an effect on the governance of the organization.

Exploration of Alternative Mediums

The medium of audio was discussed above briefly, however, this is not the only medium we wish to experiment with. Audio versions of the text articles are only one of the ways we wish to utilize audio. We have plans of running a podcast that would sum up the week’s discussion and perhaps provide a jumping off point for further discussion. One of my more ambitious plans is to create a podcast for a round-table format discussion, similar to what you’d see if you watched The Agenda, however, that would require much more time and resources than we have currently. We also have plans to integrate other mediums in order to further our discussions. As some of articles deal specifically with software and website interaction, there are plans to experiment with those mediums in order to provide examples as to how a problem could be solved elegantly and quickly.