As mentioned in my previous post, I read an interesting article by Dan Tynan titled: For Change, Use a Wiki. This particular article grabbed my attention not because of its discussion about wikis, but because of two other main points Tynan makes:

  1. Collaborative web sites are becoming tools for social change…driving collective work into collective action.
  2. The other reason this article grabbed my attention was because it brought up the issue of anonymity when dealing with collective action and social change by asking the question:

Does anonymity injure a social media initiative’s success?

Tynan not only talks about wikis potential good for social change, but also warns that this collective action can too easily mean collective anonymity.

With collective anonymity, it is harder to identify who is doing what and why. It is like an added shield of protection in someways in that with anonymity, accountability is lacking. This is especially dangerous when it comes to collective think.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Miss SocialButterfly, you are anonymous.” I am already ahead of you. I am open to disclosing who I am. If someone contacts me or asks me, and there is professional relationship-building occurring, then I will openly share who I am, what I am doing and why. Plus, I am an individual.

Thus, onto this question at hand. The article continues acknowledging that there will always be ill-intentioned individuals and groups out in existence and is optimistic that the good, the changebloggers and agents for good, will outnumber the bad.

Tynan gave two credentials for how to separate the pack for well-intentioned and ill-intentioned motives. The good will not be anonymous because A) They care about their online reputations and B) Want to collaborate for social change.

In conclusion, Tynan quotes quotes Andrew Hopping, Community Liaison for NASA’s CoLab wiki who shared:

“As with any technology, there are benevolent uses and malevolent ones. In any community I’m part of there’s little patience for people who want to stay anonymous. Our goal is to create a vibrant, transparent, and effective federal agency. To cause any form of social change, it starts with and ends with people you trust. Anonymity doesn’t lend itself to that at all.”

Where do you stand? Can social change be accomplished despite anonymity?