The Greater Fool

Posts for Tag: privacy

Privacy as Currency

Have we reached the end of the era where privacy can be used as viable currency?  That means sites and services that market the maintenance of your privacy in some fashion or another.  The idea of privacy in the social web is outdated at best and an outright lie at worst.  Perhaps, it's not even a bad thing.

There is so much information about each one of us that is freely available to anyone with a modicum of knowledge, or $39.95 to those without. The Internet never forgets either, so your best bet is to manage your personal information exposure rather than try to hide. That's the approach I've taken over the past 2 years after trying to maintain anonymity for the previous decade.

One of the best things about the early Internet was the relative anonymity one could maintain. Everyone explored, then expanded, the darkest corners of human wisdom with impunity.  Then Web2.0 came around and everyone realized that an online identity (and accompanying reputation) could be a valuable asset.  Everything became social and the weblog's assault on old media began.  Now comes the next evolution where the lines are blurring between online and offline identities.

As the portals, blogs, and forums gave way to MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, more and more of our online activity reflected our "real life" personas.  Last week, Facebook introduced a new level of integration and search with Microsoft and other third party vendors. The defenders of privacy immediately took up arms decrying the sharing of previously private information.  Facebook is trying to become the hub of our lives, both online and off.  Some would argue they have already accomplished that.  In order to leverage that position, they want to merge your identities.  Everyone seems to be worried about the consequences of that merged identity.

I contend that the revolution has already occurred. That the Internet, at large, already knows who, what, where, and often why, we are. Facebook is merely the first entity to try to consolidate all that data to be indexed and searchable.  While some would argue that the loss of freedom through online anonymity is an egregious miscarriage of justice, I think people having some level of accountability for their actions is not such a bad thing. You can't put the genie back in the bottle.  As Alan Kay Stewart Brand once famously said, "information wants to be free."