A group of prominent bloggers got together to start a Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web [tip of the hat to Vera Bass]. This is a laudable effort to kick off a valuable conversation on our privacy online. And I hope these gentlemen collect a diverse group of supporters. This dialogue should include all of us who share knowledge and personal resources through these media.
Irony of ironies, while I was writing my weekly post for FC Expert blogs I received a spam text message on my mobile phone -- the one registered on the "do not call" list. It was an ad for Microsoft Vista. I reported the incident to my mobile provider, Cingular (the new AT&T). Yesterday, I checked a couple of online directories and requested that my information be removed -- there is no reason why it should have found its way there in the first place.
Sadly, I foresee a booming business for cleaning up digital identities. Did you really think that those email accounts were free? Those sophisticated search engines are now making it easier for you to be found and marketed to. I am a marketer and object to this model. It goes counter to everything we've been saying about conversation and social media. I would much rather talk with the people who want to talk to me and sell a product or service that people want than resort to sneaking around my customers.
A little while ago I read a book by K. C. Cole titled Mind Over Matter: Conversations with the Cosmos, which is a collection of essays Ms. Cole published primarily in her Los Angeles Times science column. The book is filled with nuggets of wisdom and insights like [emphasis mine]:
Purity doesn't exist. Life is complicated in part because it has been pieced together by evolution, borrowing whatever worked from whatever ingredients were handy (off-the-shelf, as it were) at the time. From complexity comes the capacity for difference.
In the end, the biggest risk is not to take any risks at all. In science we find that:
- The opposite of a deep truth can also be true: waves can also be particles, and energy is another form of matter; two mutually exclusive things can be part of the same larger reality.
- Every action has a reaction
- Everything is connected
- Things look different in different reference frames
- Rules change in unfamiliar terrain, often in counterintuitive ways
The price of strength is often just transparency.
To all those new entrepreneurs who are aggregating existing digital data on people to make it easier to market to them I say: you are trading trust for cash. What happens in physics when we push in one direction? We receive a counter push from the object or subject with equal or greater force. I might not have been the best student in the sciences -- to me this feels like common sense. Your customers' privacy (perceived too) is non negotiable. That is the subject of this week's FC Expert post.
We do mind and it does matter. Let's continue the conversation.