The Nymity project is building toward a future where digital citizens control the models of identity and reputation underlying their communal discourse spaces. We are developing tools that make explicit and configurable what is often an implicit feature of a shared space—the nymity it affords its users.
Established in 2020 by Charles Nesson, Sarah Schwettmann, and SJ Klein, Nymity was inspired by Nesson’s development and use of the Threads tool for pseudonymous discourse in the law classroom, and the range of approaches to nymity on Wikipedia. The project is grounded in the university, where we develop and host tools that allow communities to modulate the digital identities of individuals within a group and work with faculty, students, and researchers to integrate those tools into digital teaching and learning.
Classrooms that make parallel use of spaces with limited nymity—for instance, pseudonymity—find freedom from implicit and explicit bias, and freedom of the mind from the inferences and inhibitions at play when discourse is attached to real-world identity. What do we gain, what does a class convey, when words carry all the weight? Speaking openly in a space with defined closure, communities crystallize into networks of trust and individual accountability that are prepared to face the complexities of real-world identity. Limited nymspaces provide a way to re-introduce open discourse and provocative debate into the learning process, empowering students to grapple with difficult issues where ethics, justice, and proper framing are uncertain.
Threads, a nymity tool for classroom and community use, is an unlinkable, pseudonymous, text-only discussion platform hosted by the Berkman Klein Center. Our workshops and the materials below provide guidance for getting started on the Threads platform or setting up your own instance via our GitHub. The tool is currently under development for broader use in Fall 2021.