Diceware and User Names

Diceware is a system to make passwords that are easy to remember but very difficult to guess. The technique uses dice throws to choose a passphrase.

Diceware was invented and trademarked by A G Reinhold and is available at https://diceware.com. It requires five dice and a table such as the one Reinhold created. For each roll of 5 dice, there are 7776 different possible outcomes. Each combination selects a different short word from a 36 page table.

If I roll 61544, 21455 and 65243, the phrase that the tables return is “track cove yves” This doesn’t have enough entropy to be a good password and diceware.com explains why in more depth and authority than I can.

My idea is that you can use diceware to create usernames. I tend to use the same phrases for a username. If you see those phrases, there’s a good chance it’s me, which isn’t good for anonymity.

I can use two or three rolls and Diceware to construct a username that is unique and won’t be reused anywhere else. Diceware usernames won’t be biased by the difficulty that humans are poor when they try to pick randomly. Google is a nice place to use Diceware to create throwaway user names that google won’t mangle with numbers at the end. [Ignoring the paradox that if I create my usernames this way, it’s still not anonymous because very few people do it this way so it can be a little obvious.]

I just created my account at http://archiveofourown.org. AOOO is an archive for fanfiction of all sorts. I’m hoping to add fan fiction based on Vernor Vinge’s Hugo winning works A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky. I didn’t find any other AOOO fanfiction for him, so I can do all the world building I want as Blitz72hero. (In addition, it’s a cooler name than I could have come up with on my own!)


Thought bubble
In the book “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other,” Sherry Turkle said “With some exceptions, when we make ourselves vulnerable we expect to be nurtured.” (p. 235) She’s referring Erik Erikson and the expectations coming from basic trust. That’s something that’s completely counter to the way that the Internet often works. For the most part, any time you put yourself out there, you’re at risk of being attacked or ridiculed rather than built up and comforted.

One place for this risk comes from places that encourage intimacy. It’s not always easy to trust people to begin with. Letting your guard down out there in the social media dystopia isn’t always safe. If one makes comments that might be too hard to share in person, it can still end up hurting.

One reason for this is that anonymity allows people to be more negative and exhibit the dark tetrad personality traits when, in person, they wouldn’t act out. To them, the idea that people have feelings or that they are afraid of being humiliated is alien. Often, the enemy only feels good by getting some lolz.

Sometimes you can find a community of like-minded people where you can be safe. This reflects Sherry’s comment “Communities are places where one feels safe enough to take the good and the bad.” (p. 238) I’ve found some, like deviantART, are different than most social media. One reason is that to belong there, you have to put in some work. You can’t just repost an inane meme and belong. A member of dA is a creator. A pretender just looks around and is lurking.

Every time you get in front of a computer screen and post something on Twitter or Facebook, it’s possible to misstep and be misunderstood catastrophically.