Feb 24, 2007

"Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose"

- Kris Kristofferson (made famous by Janis Joplin)

The current generation gap is predicated on the expectation of privacy, or rather the lack thereof, according Emily Nussbaum in her New York Magazine article: Kids, the Internet, and the End of Privacy: The Greatest Generation Gap Since Rock and Roll

Kids today. They have no sense of shame. They have no sense of privacy. They are show-offs, fame whores, pornographic little loons who post their diaries, their phone numbers, their stupid poetry—for God’s sake, their dirty photos!—online.

She's got a good point, if you approach the social software world with the idea that you can't hide anything (no matter how hard you try) then you might as well hide nothing. That attitude allows a greater sense of freedom when posting blog entries and joining social networks.

So imagine today's teens becoming 30-somethings and the impact their attitude will have on business. Today's "collaboration enthusiasts" will no longer be "reminding" users to "link rather than attach". And, gasp, e-mail may eventually become passe? (One can only hope). It'll be the old-time "e-mailers" clutching to their PIM devices and personalized tools that will be the ones calling the help desk and recreating the Medieval Tech Support scenario circa 2015.

Still, I suspect that I'm going to be one of those privacy nuts holding out to the end ("compared to the scoll, it takes longer to turn the pages of a book"). I know that as much as I like to share, I also like to hoard, locally. Something I learned as a descendant of the cold war and most likely can only be explained in Jungian terms. The pack rats of the future will store their "stuff" in accessible places (public and corporate networks) and on someone else's dime. Free comes with a price, less privacy. But if you have no expectation of privacy in the first place then the price isn't so high. And if the users are OK with it, then social software and collaboration are just a matter of habit.

Source: Kids, the Internet, and the End of Privacy: The Greatest Generation Gap Since Rock and Roll -- New York Magazine


AmyGeek said...

Only to a certain point though. Do you remember a few months ago when FaceBook started notifying folks when their friends posted on their sites? There was a huge backlash. The kids felt like it was a big invasion of privacy - that big brother was telling on them!

So, they're comfortable if they decide what to make publicly available...but there are lines that they feel should not be crossed.

Karen Hobert said...

Ah, so as long as you don't let them know that you're watching. Maybe not Big Brother at work but at least it blew away the illusion that Mom and Dad had no idea what was going on. Ah to be a teen again...not!

Seems like an odd thing to cry about, a service to tell you when something changes on your site, especially when it’s coming from a source you are interested in. Sounds like um, what are they called? ...Oh yea, RSS subscriptions. So "Web 2.0". And I would have expected that the friend that was "told on" wouldn't have such a problem, it just means more timely attention for them. What boggles my mind is the inbox of the user who has thousands of friends. Yikes!

I guess you need to make these things opt-in programs. I only want to know about my loss of privacy on the terms I can deal with. Hmmm and denial is a river in Egypt. That was one of the great points in the article; that users with no expectation of privacy did much better with social software. You need a thick skin and you need to move on when something totally embarrassing happens (like an ex-whatever posting a compromising video of you).

Personally, I like the fact that I got notified about your comment. It makes my response more timely. I suppose if the volume got too loud I'd have to use another system (which may not include technology) for keeping up with posts and comments. ;-)

Bob said...

LOVE it that you not only credited the correct author of the lead, but also bowed in Janis' direction.

Your point about "privacy" being essentially a "generation-gap" thing (and therefore, I would argue, a cultural phenomenon) is very interesting.

I would contend that the point at which the cultural zeitgeist rubber meets the harsh reality of the real world road is the line where "privacy" bumps up against "security". Meaning that one can get used to "lack of privacy" (a culturally influenced attitude), but if it leads to someone ripping off your bank account, you're in real trouble.

Some stuff really should remain secret, no?

Andrew said...

Hey Karen -- just read this. I knew if we gave you time you'd step out and show us what you really think.

Great post, I enjoyed it. It made me think of things I've heard "the kids" doing that remind me how I'm now on the other side of that generation gap.

Welcome to the blogsphere.