I've decided to start another semi-regular post along the lines of Words worth espousing and Faculty Follies. LAMEASS of the Month. Remember that LAME was is an acronym coined by Jef - Look At Me Everybody. A LAME claim is a suspect assertion which seems on closer examination to be made not to solve a problem, or to get closer to the truth, but as an exercise in self-promotion.
LAMEASS goes with and extends the original - LAME Attention Seeking Schmuck. LAMEASSes do not necessarily have to make a claim - by their very nature, or the way they conduct themselves they are attention seeking schmucks.
So, without further ado, I bring to you, LAMEASS of the Month - danah boyd.
"Whoa!" I hear you say. "You forgot the capital letters on her name."
Nope, that's not it. She had her name legally changed to remove the capitalisation:
No, i did not forget to capitalize that, but i've quickly learned that most people don't appreciate my decision to leave the capitalization out of my name. There are a lot of reasons that i got rid of the capital letters in the final name change, some personal and some political.
danah balances; Danah does not. In fact, my entire name balances quite conveniently, in all of its forms: danah michele mattas beard boyd. There's something elegant about that.
There's also the political. I was always bothered by the fact that the first person singular pronoun is capitalized in english - i always thought it was quite self-righteous.
Yes, it's quite the bother... and self-righteous. One wouldn't want to be self-righteous. (Deliberately going out of your way to defy a convention of written English isn't self-righteous, is it?)
...Ever since i was a kid, i was told that the world does not revolve around me, yet our written culture is telling me something entirely different.
Hmmm. The world doesn't revolve around you, but you are so special that not only do you not capitalise your name, you don't capitalise "I" either. Hang on a second, won't this actually draw attention to yourself? You know, make the world revolve around you. Next we have a great example of an Argument by Artifice:
...i started researching where the capitalization of said pronoun came from and was quite stunned to find that it was always capitalized because it always appeared as the first word in a sentence, never stuck in the middle. And then, when it started appearing in the middle, it started getting capitalized out of convention and because people worried that it would get lost in script. Of course, "It's odd, and a little unsettling, to reflect upon the fact that English is the only major language in which "I" is capitalized; in many other languages "You" is capitalized and the "i" is lower case" (journalist Sydney J. Harris).
Question: why don't you capitalise "You" instead then? Or make sure you only use "I" at the beginning of sentences?
...But, this led me on a mental tangent - What's in a name? What's its worth? Why is it so valuable that it is to be capitalized? Down this path, i started thinking about names as descriptors versus separate entities. Isn't a name simply another unique adjective for me? A label? I am not my name; my name is simply another descriptor of me. Should i weight that descriptor as anything more valuable than the other adjectives used to describe me? Obviously, i care about my name - i've gone out of my way to change it too many times to suggest otherwise. But do i believe that capitalization shows the appropriate value?
Capitalisation is giving a name too much value, but going out of your way to get it changed to lower case isn't...? Nice artifice, but I doubt that's your real motivation - deep down inside you just want to be special.
Danah Boyd Sorry, danah boyd - you are a worthy inaugural LAMEASS-OTM.
Okay, that's just pointless and annoying... Imagine having to explain that to people every time I met them. It'd be as if I'd guaranteed the conversation would always revolve around me and my "specialness".