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Thursday, October 12, 2006

"Subconscious misperception"

I'm reading the business librarians' listserv - yes, we have a [not-so-]secret cabal where we exchange information. I come across this piece:

I find it a strange and interesting "dichotomy" that people have concerning the Internet (Blogs, emails). We've been at our company looking a User Generated Content (blogs, RSS, etc). And trying to understand this "yet another variation" of cyberspace and how it impacts our company and our clientele. A recent survey by Pew on Bloggers, indicated that Bloggers "see" their blogs as a private thing, in spite of the fact they are using a public medium where everyone and anyone can see it. I cannot help but wonder if cell phones have influenced the blurring of private and public conversations. How many people have you "heard" in a public place that speaking loud enough for everyone in hearing distance on their cell phone, some conversations that really should not be made public.

Consider that there are many folks who are "concerned about privacy" and yet will freely give out information about themselves to telemarkers.

Things that make you go hmmmmm.


I thought it interesting enough to steal, er, borrow for my blog, but I thought I would ask her. In the TO: line was her name and the listserv name. I swore I had deleted the latter. That is, until I got back my own message, at which point I quickly apologized to the list. One respondent, Dan the Data Wrangler, wrote back: "Hey, no problem....at least it wasn't one that contained highly personal or salacious content. :-)" I replied, "I try not to do salacious."

In any case, in searching for the Pew study which the initial writer mentioned, I came across this Business Week article from July 19, 2006 entitled "Pew Blog Study Shows the Lure of Storytelling is High" by Heather Green:

The Pew Internet and American Life Project has a new study out on blogging that finds that most people who blog do it to tell stories about their lives--not to write about politics, tech, or media.
One tidbit I found particularly interesting is that 55% of bloggers write using a pseudonym...
Pew found that about 8%, or 12 million American adults, blog, while 39% of the population, or 57 million people, read blogs.


This, as these things do, led me to another study, Bloggers' FAQ on Student Blogging:
According to a November 2005 study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 19% of online teens keep a blog and 38% read them. This represents approximately four million students who blog and is a significantly higher percentage than the adult population (7%).

Then, this one: In court, blogs can come back to dog the writers; Use as evidence increases by Sacha Pfeiffer of the Boston Globe, September 28, 2006.

Yes, I'm blogging about blogging again, how I'm a part of a growing number of people putting out whatever random thoughts come to me on a regular basis, and part a slight minority of bloggers who actually doesn't write pseudonymously. But it's more about how I've seen people in blogs making curious choices about what they put out there. I know one buddy who put out info about his trip to Florida, but it was AFTER he got back - pretty clever, that one. Another chum noted problems at work; hey, I've noted my disdain for my new office - the white noise that otherwise would tend to put me to sleep, and as a result, how my caffeine consumption is way up - but that is something I would say, heck, HAVE said, to the powers that be. I don't say anything that I wouldn't want quoted out of context. Or at least, I try not to.

The initial quote above was in response to an ongoing dialogue; the previous post was from Dan, who wrote:

Personally, I think the last thing we need is more legislation about privacy, or anything else. As the author you quote notes, and as I hope we all know, anything you ever do, or anything you ever say, put into electronic form, or on paper can probably be retrieved. If you don't want someone to know what you think, keep it to yourself.

This is nothing new. Ever since the beginning of writing, if not earlier, the recipient of a message could do anything he wanted with it, and that's still true. The same is true of email or chat, as I'd hoped we all knew already.

In many chat programs when a session ends you're prompted as to whether or not you want to save a transcript. The person you're chatting with can save that file and do whatever he wishes with it. Tell the police? Blackmail? Send it to your spouse? Send it to the New York Times?

No matter what anyone thinks, privacy doesn't exist. It may have at one point, but it certainly doesn't now. Legislation will not change that one bit.


I think there is a subconscious misperception that what we put in blogs and e-mail are private. And I think that's a dangerous thing.

(Thanks to Al for the title.)

2 comments:

Scott said...

What I put on my blog about my working circumstance was only the second time I had mentioned work. This is going to sound odd, but even though I wanted to get things off my chest and figured that I was safe on my blog, I always assume that what I post on it is not private. I have purposely tried not to use my last name to give me some privacy. And everything I post (other then that rant about my job) is something that I would freely admit to anyone.

As it is, what I said on that post was at least told to the recruiter that got me the job. I let him know so he wouldn't be surprised when I told him that I had found something better. But given that I haven't been introduced to 95% of the people in my office, and hardly have said much to anyone here, I just assumed that it was going to be somewhat private. (And we know what assuming does.)

The funny thing was that one of my uncle's had said that I should be careful (like you mentioned) that things can be easily found on the internet. The following day one of my former co-workers sent me an email saying that he found my blog and liked the layout. I had asked how he found out about it. He said that a new employee had been researching the company via the internet and happened across my blog because I mentioned the name. So that won't be happening again. I am going back to my policy that I won't mention anything that I wouldn't tell someone personally.

Very interesting topic Roger. And very interesting insight.

Anonymous said...

No matter what anyone thinks, privacy doesn't exist.

No matter what anyone thinks, privacy doesn't exist.

No matter what anyone thinks, privacy doesn't exist.

No matter what anyone thinks, privacy doesn't exist.

No matter what anyone thinks, privacy doesn't exist.

No matter what anyone thinks, privacy doesn't exist.

That's why I sign my messages here and most other places on the Net "Anonymous". But you should know I lurk often on your wonderful blog but usually don't write, Roger. And I assume you know who I am (need I say more than MI-SBDC)?. xoxoxo