Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Kim and the naughty girl....

In regard to yesterday's post ("No masks in the grocery store"), Kim asks to hold off that discussion while he continues a non-emotional, unimpassioned "technical exploration" of privacy, anonymity and linking.

The problem with that, to me, is that the anonymity, non-linking aspects gain ascendancy in the discussion, to the derogation of issues such as personalization and even the emerging area of reputation.

There are definite areas (mostly around political issues) where anonymity is important. But the whole privacy thing has always struck me as code for "I want porn but don't want anyone to know how much I get," a holdover from our teenage days and hiding the Playboys when mom cleaned our room - e.g. see the "naughtyGirl" scenario. Now that's too facile an argument, I know, but it does encompass a large number of the use cases for on-line privacy. Don't get me wrong, privacy is important. Each on-line persona should be able to develop and maintain it's own personality without there necessarily being any overlap. It's a nice thing to have. But by making it a requirement, we can potentially shoot down other "nic things to have" before we even have the chance to try them out.

I think there's also a number of people who want to keep their personal and business identities separate. Consider the fact that there are a lot of laws about what people are allowed to ask in interviews. If you don't have the ability to keep your online personal and business personas separate, people will easily dodge the legal requirements in interviews and will be able to easily glean all of that information from online data.

For example, it's easy to see I have kids from looking at my flicker pages, which are tied to my Yahoo! account -- some people would choose not to hire me for a job because of my kids. It's illegal to ask about it in an interview, but pretty easy to determine from my online information.

As time goes on, the online information available about me can only increase.

Now imagine every stupid thing you ever said as a teenager was searchable online...
"As time goes on, the online information available about me can only increase."

See Norlin’s maxim: "The internet inexorably pulls information from the private domain into the public domain."
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