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How Pseudonymity Can Foster Innovations in the Modern Age

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It may sound impractical and too good to be true, but pseudonymity is possible — and it has been exercised to some extent for some time. Benjamin Franklin took on the pen name Mrs. Silence Dogood after he was denied publication by The New-England Courant and was quickly published. John le Carré published his novel Call for the Dead under the name David John Moore Cornwell for an impressive reason. He could not use his name as a book author while he was an MI-5 agent. JK Rowling of the Harry Potter series fame wrote The Cuckoo's Calling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith to publish a new work without the hype and expectations.

The hundreds of millions of Reddit users are also mostly pseudonymous. Many on social media use pseudonyms especially the so-called “alter ego” and parody accounts. While some may say they contribute to social media junk and confusion, this is not enough reason to invalidate the entertainment and wisdom shared by famous parody accounts like Twitter’s @thetweetofgod.

“Pseudonymity is where society is going,” says serial entrepreneur and angel investor Balaji Srinivasan, who also suggests that it is something people should want and learn to build. In his presentation for the Cryptocurrency and Hayek Conference hosted by Coin Center and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Srinivasan used, as an example, the support for multiple accounts in online services such as Google, which allow users to create and maintain separate accounts for their personal, professional and other activities.

Pseudonymity also exists in the economic aspect with consumers and businesses maintaining different accounts in specific online stores, marketplaces, online wallets and digital currencies. There are also consumer accounts used to rate and review products and services.

“The pseudonymous economy is the foundation for muscular classical liberalism that is capable of standing up in today’s information environment,” explains Srinivasan, who was formerly the Chief Technology Officer of Coinbase and former general partner at Andreessen Horowitz.

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