Tag Archives: privacy

Transparency: the self, online

7 Feb

There’s always debate around one issue when it comes to virtual interaction: how much personal information should we share?  How much is wise, and how much do we have to disclose in order to participate in the activities we want?

I think that when we choose to place our thoughts and opinions in the public arena, digital or otherwise, we run a gambit between protecting our identities so we don’t suffer repercussions professionally (anyone else miss tenure?) and divulging enough of ourselves to connect with our audiences.  There’s a practical side to this, but also a philosophical one.  A lot of the time there’s discussion that pretends it’s the philosophical side, but is really practical; things like right to privacy, data mining, and protecting minors can seem philosophical but at the heart, they deal with real situations and real people.

The practical side has benefits on both sides of the question: managing multiple identities, versus never having to remember who you’re being in X capacity.  Obviously, if you know what you have to say is inflammatory, a pseudonym is the best route: Annoyed Librarian, over at Library Journal is a fantastic example.  The philosophical side we mostly don’t think about unless it’s in terms too abstract or directly related to you.

But for myself, I tend to lean more toward disclosure, with a healthy dose of caution, since even though we should be able to express our opinions as ourselves and not be judged by our employers, that is not always the case.  I think it’s pretty difficult to be 100% on either side until you reach a certain level of notoriety (good or bad – Neil Gaiman and Snooki would be examples of good and bad, respectively), when you can be your complete self and know that reprisal won’t be forthcoming.  Mostly, I think that the more you share of yourself, the more engaged your audience becomes, and that’s a consideration we should all make when we enter the digital world.


Snacks for Thought

18 Nov

Because this isn’t long enough to count as “food for thought.”

Yesterday we got a very interesting piece of mail. As the background, you should know we own our home – that means our current name and address is a matter of public record. If you know how to dig, you can find us. This is different from before, when we lived in an apartment and there were no public records specifically relating to our residence (we don’t list in the phone book).

Cut to yesterday. A letter, handwritten, comes addressed to my husband. It uses our old apartment’s address and has been forwarded courtesy of the post office. The return address is a PO Box, and upon opening and reading the letter, we are both astonished. It’s from a Jehovah’s Witness. They didn’t come to our door, they sent a “Jehovah Saves” letter. To an address more difficult to obtain than our current one.

I know, you’re going to say that we signed up for something. We didn’t. I have no idea how they got that information.

So, today’s point is that you should know what kinds of information constitute public record, essentially like Facebook’s recently demised “opt-out” policy, and to what uses others put your information. You are the custodian of your data and information, and you should act accordingly.