The Pseudonym Call Option
I’ve always studied and obsessed over brands.
Brands encapsulate an idea that is difficult to describe in any short amount of time - for example, what is the substance that actually makes up the brand that is “Nike”?
Nike is the encapsulation of all actions, decisions, products, and intentions that Phil Knight and the team have put forward over decades of development.
A great brand cannot be bought, it must be earned, through work and authenticity, that’s why the best brands are built by founders with an extraordinary and unwavering vision.
We’re accustomed to the idea of a “brand” as it relates to products. But what about people?
People have “brands” in the sense that we see people through our own perceptions related to our experience with them.
“Oprah” has a brand that is tied to her work, the brand of “Kanye” to his music, and now shoes, the brand of “Trump” first for forceful business tactics, then for politics.
And then there are “Monikers” “Stage names” and other such brands.
The advantage of a Brand is that it can become larger than the individual because the brand can exist in the minds of others in such a way that they identify with, personally.
What I mean is that we do not identify as a person WITH a person. I don’t identify myself to actually be, in some form or fashion, Kanye West.
However, I may identify a part of myself to aspire to BE like the BRAND of what Kanye West represents in fashion or music.
Brands let us abstract products, people, or activities into imaginative, aspirational ideas that we wish to associate with.
What is the purpose of a Pseudonym?
A pseudonym is like a brand without the specific entity of creation attached to it.
You are known, but your original source is not.
I believe that Pseudonyms have made a return, first and foremost because of Satoshi Nakamoto; the soon-to-be-richest person on the planet, of which no one knows his/her/their true identity.
Satoshi Nakamoto is the pseudonym of the person or people that wrote the Bitcoin whitepaper.
The sheer brilliance of this person or group to not only develop Bitcoin the protocol but also to do so under a Pseudonym is absolutely amazing to me.
The advantages of this Pseudonym, for Satoshi, are absolutely clear:
We can believe in a pseudonym as a “brand” - an idea rather than a person. This expands the territory of how people perceive them.
A pseudonym offers safety – While every big tech CEO is called before congress, Satoshi is nowhere to be found.
A pseudonym is a call option – as it’s possible to reverse the decision and become public if and when you choose.
This optionality, safety, flexibility, and “brand” like qualities make pseudonyms a very interesting opportunity to think about as we deepen the amount of time and effort we put into our online identities.
If the first wave of the internet leads to social media companies which leads to us sharing everything about ourselves and our personal lives online….
It feels we’re in the second wave wherein we’re learning the risks and exposure associated with this. This is happening with de-platforming and centralization risks.
It would make sense to me that the third wave will be an integration of the two. Learning when and where we should use our real identifying names and details and when we should work and share under a pseudonym.
What I’m trying to describe, the key point is that Pseudonyms increase opportunity (through brand-like qualities) and decrease risk (through identity protection).
This is why pseudonyms are a call-option on the future for your identity.
And something you might want to consider.