Today I had lunch with Dirk Knemeyer and Frances Karandy at a very nice restaurant in downtown San Francisco. While much was discussed, debated, laughed over and caught up on since we last met at the Overlap back in May, one interesting thing came up in the conversation.
We were talking about the backlash following the lack of ‘privacy’ on social networking sites – the recent Facebook furor comes to mind – and I said I’d love to be able to have a password protected section on del.icio.us as well. Just like Flickr allows you to seperate your private and public photographs, why not a similar concept on del.icio.us?
Now that these sites have gone beyond being ‘new and cool’ and fun etc and were increasingly becoming tools that we use in our work – for example, del.icio.us is how I manage my information for the Monday Morning Must Read newsletter – did we really want to ‘let it all hang out’ ?
While I agree that the fundamental premise of these sites are based on being social and networking and making ‘friends’ and connecting, they are also valuable tools. Particularly for those of us whose primary work in conducted in this virtual space. I’m predicting this issue will become increasingly obvious as time progresses, based on what I can see happening now and how people respond to these concepts of privacy and identity.
Also the fact that while the linking and networking aspect was great, perhaps we didn’t want to link to any and all. I’m still somewhat surprised by discovering I have a link called "your fans" on del.icio.us – 7 people actually wanna know what I bookmark! – maybe as these sites and services evolve, we want to be able to choose whom we link to or allow access to our information and images.
In fact, just last night I was out with a friend of mine who said something most insightful [ I wonder if the Guinness had anything to do with it? :)] We were discussing our various identities online – I must have at the very least four that I can immediately recall and very probably, a few more – and he said that this was an interesting development that online services were going to have to grapple with eventually. Multiple identities – which leads me to recall Vernor Vinge’s True Names, discussed in detail last September at the Accelerating Change 2005 conference.
Well enough with the rambling thoughts, I’ll go away and ponder offline. In the meantime, thanks Dirk, if you’re reading this, for the lovely lunch and Oban on the rocks 🙂