[LINK] Reuters: 'Web control replaces privacy'
Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Tue Jul 3 12:36:31 EST 2007
[Comments at end]
Web control replaces privacy
Reuters / The Australian IT Section
July 03, 2007
MOVE over, Paris Hilton. We all have celebrity issues in an age when
anyone can create an online profile, post confessional videos on
YouTube and make snarky online comments about other people.
The latest generation of websites - which attract tens of millions of
users daily to share words, photos and videos about themselves and
their friends - make a virtue of openness at the expense of
traditional notions of privacy.
"My grandparents would have had a different attitude about privacy,"
says Jeff Jarvis, a former critic for Britain's TV Guide turned top
blogger and columnist for the Guardian in London.
Sites such as Facebook, Photobucket and Flickr are enjoying surging
popularity because they allow people to control their online
identities in ways that make the danger of revealing too much
information a constant worry - and all part of the game.
"Within the web realm there is no private self," argues David
Weinberger, author of a newly published book, Everything Is
Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder.
The danger of such exposure is that it could affect careers when
students seek jobs in the real world or private citizens seek public
George W. Bush and Bill Clinton might never have been elected
president of the US had sites like Google's YouTube or News
Corporation's MySpace, the world's biggest online meeting places,
existed to record the events of their younger years.
While policy makers ponder how to bolster online anonymity, social
network users are more concerned about deciding what to reveal about
themselves next. Most users of the new self-publishing tools report
finding a stronger sense of community among friends, family and
random website visitors who share their interests.
Facebook, a site started by a Harvard University undergraduate to
help students get to know one another, has exploded in popularity
among professional users in Britain and the US since the site took
steps to open up to people of all ages.
It now claims 25 million active users, who enjoy the control Facebook
gives them over who they let into their network.
Highlighting his own change of thinking on the subject of privacy,
Jarvis revealed last year in a blog post, titled My cheatin' heart,
that he was suffering from a medical condition that slowed work on
his widely read media criticism blog, BuzzMachine
(www.buzzmachine.com/). Supportive comments, and advice about
potential treatments, poured in.
"Revealing a little bit of yourself is the only way to make
connections to other people and that is how the internet works,"
Caterina Fake, co-founder of photo sharing site Flickr, says the
defining moment for her startup was when it decided all photos on the
site would be public.
Previously, photo sites had assumed users photos should be private,
unless deliberately published for public consumption.
Mena Trott, who, with her husband, Ben, developed Movable Type, a
software system for publishing blogs, says control is a better word
than privacy for defining oneself in different situations on the web.
[A disappointingly superficial piece on the self-publicity mania. It
overlooks the facts that fantasy reigns in social networking
services, much of the data is self-supplied, and everything is
plausibly deniable if and when it's re-discovered and used. Does
anyone actually *believe* my on-line CV??]
[Aside: what a great pseudonym: "co-founder of ... Flickr, Caterina Fake"]
[Now, how about we think about the genuinely interesting and
difficult bit, which is the ability of search-engines to collate data
from far more reliable sources than Facebook ...]
Roger Clarke http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd 78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au http://www.xamax.com.au/
Visiting Professor in Info Science & Eng Australian National University
Visiting Professor in the eCommerce Program University of Hong Kong
Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre Uni of NSW
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