17
Jan
09

Data Security and Web 2.0

There are many discussions going on about improving digital privacy and making our data more secure. I believe there are conflicting desires in place when talking about digital privacy: Desire for control over the information we want to reveal and desire to take full advantage of technology. For those of us used to paper in filing cabinets, our framework for digital security is being able to lock the filing cabinet whenever we want and only give certain people the key. Unfortunately, ubiquitous digital technology refuses to stay in that framework.

 

The social networking capabilities of the Internet are driving transparency and authenticity. More people can learn more about us than at any other time in history. That has tremendous implications for all of us. We need to make a decision. If taking full advantage of the Web’s capabilities means being transparent and authentic, do I want to take full advantage of the opportunities?

 

Here’s an example. I run a consulting company that helps mid-sized companies under stress – either because of rapid growth or business difficulties. I could have decided to set up a basic “brochureware” website to promote my business and rely on traditional networking to spread the message. The information is static and relatively secure, but not particularly transparent or authentic. It does very little to distinguish me from the hundreds of other consultants in Chicagoland.

 

Instead, I’ve decided to become as transparent and authentic as I can possibly be in order to help my prospects find me and then decide whether they want to do business with me. Yes, the “brochureware” website is in place (www.launchpadpartners.net), but it is also supplemented with a profile on LinkedIn, a blog, and a personal website (www.buckleybrinkman.com). In about ten minutes, you can know who I am and how I think.

 

Does it make me more vulnerable? Absolutely – but it also enables people to decide whether they want to connect with me, how they can help me, and how I can help them. The visibility makes it possible to connect with people around the world.

 

This exercise has had two interesting side-effects. First, as I developed content and built profiles with transparency in mind, it made me more conscious of my own thoughts and behaviors. The exercise caused me to be more mindful of my own behavior in order to be consistent with my beliefs, not just to create an aura of authenticity, but to be genuinely authentic. Second, it caused me to stretch my own thinking and incorporate new points of view. It helped me learn and grow.

 

Kevin Kelly presents an interesting picture of the future, claiming that this trade-off will only become more intense. The Internet will create tremendous cost and time savings, personalized to our own preferences. The ability to harness those capabilities will require us to become even more comfortable with our own transparency and authenticity. Take a few minutes and watch his vision. It’s great stuff! http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/kevin_kelly_on_the_next_5_000_days_of_the_web.html

 

In the end, the rules are changing and balancing the desires between control over our information and message, and fully utilizing new technology will become a personal concern for all of us. Staying focused on the trade-off pushes our vision forward onto the possibilities. Striving for complete digital privacy leaves us looking at the past.

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