- Kris Kristofferson (made famous by Janis Joplin)
UPDATE 3/25/2009: After several conversations with colleagues about how putting your life on public record can come back to haunt you and the recent identity squatting incident my friend is suffering, I decided to re-post this entry I made in February of 2007. I think the issues this article covers continue to become more important than ever. The idea of broadcasting your activities in social networks may raise the risk hackles of the X-Gens but will it be tolerable when Millenials are doing the hiring? This article explores these and other issues with social software, privacy, and changing attitudes. My entire post from February 24, 2007 is below.
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 and how people work together. Today's "collaboration enthusiasts" will no longer be reminding users to "link rather than attach". And, gasp, e-mail may eventually become passe? 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 scroll, 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. 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 elses 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.