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Beauty and danger

Writing about other people

I've decided to be cautious about identifying other people on my website.

The first reason for caution is that the modern political situation is tenuous, and especially so in my native United States. Freedoms of expression and association are under official challenge.

I recently visited the United States, and I spoke with people important to me. Some of them told me about realities and ideas that I would never want to pin on anybody, no matter how open or widespread such knowledge or sentiment. This encouraged my earlier idea that it's better to be careful and make special attempt at protecting people's identities.

The other main reason that I feel an ethic of special caution is due is that I have some experience already with identifying people, quite accidentally, by the way that I have written about them. I've learned that it can be quite easy to determine the identity of a subject, and that online material can be quite "local."

Pages that I have intended for a purely general audience, thinking that the human subjects were effectively anonymous, have on several occasions come back to me. It can be embarassing, which is harmless enough, and it can make one sit back and think.