Saturday, November 27, 2021

From USENET to Twitter the adventures of Eli Rabett


At best social media are teaching opportunities but they can challenge professional geoscientists and today other scientists because of politically driven online hostility and the naivety of other participants. Few have been able to deal with the environment and even those who have are often walled off by motivated blocking. This has been the case since the early days of USENET. An interesting development has been the emergence of scientifically sophisticated participants who, while not climate scientists as such, have relevant knowledge and experience in scientific research and whose participation in the on line forums provides useful information to lurkers and persuadables as well as not ceding ground to the relentless streams of fake information.

The latter point is vital, trolls seek to control the online space by chasing out others. Eli can talk about his adventures in geoscience based social media since the 1990s. A motivating part of this has been the ability to create a character, Eli Rabett. 

Benefits of being somebunny else

A pseudonym provides the space not to take things (too) personally. A reply that has often serves Eli is to point out that saying nasty stuff about a stuffed bunny is by itself amusing. So yeah, standing here is risky stuff.

Psuedonyms and Social Networking

The fun part of being Eli has been creating the character and giving him a consistent voice, some idiosyncrasies, a few friends and a point of view, which while overlapping with someone he knows well, is not quite identical.

Especially at the start, a pseudonym provides space to establish a reputation and a following. Nobody knows who you are on the internet and especially if you are commenting in a different area than your professional training, claiming expertise, is a sure way to gather abuse. A number of climate bloggers have started with pseudonyms building a network of commenters and friends over time.

The way of the web is that you will almost inevitably be found, but by then you can be better known at least to your readers and followers by your pseudonym. It’s fun trying to figure out if one of your colleagues knows about your other self.

Even better is being introduced to some prominent geoscientist as Eli's other self and watching as they figure out you are Eli.

So who is Eli today? Eli Rabett, is a not quite failed professorial techno-bunny who finally handed in the keys and retired from his wanna be research university. He seeks but a cup of coffee and some help with the expenses of blogging and tweeting, the travel to exotic stuffy rooms with science talks and carfare there unto. 

Maybe also a beer now and again