The Internet is losing its anonymity and increasingly merging our work and private lives with individuals and organizations we may never meet or interact with during our lives and careers. Are you comfortable with how much information there is out on the Internet about you, your activities and your associations? Personally, this makes me think about online privacy and personal space. I’ve been taught not to pick up hitchhikers on the side of the road, why should I pick you up or let you follow me on the Internet super-highway 24/7/365?
Social Media are innovative collaborative technologies that use the Internet as their foundation to facilitate open, transparent, and collaborative communities. Social media is also paradigm shift in how individuals interact through the Internet. Common Internet communication channels such as e-mail, static Web sites and mailing lists connect people to information, but have a difficult time supporting conversations or an efficient transfer of knowledge between participants. However social media’s success stems from its ability to connect people to people, and facilitate online networks and communities vibrant with dialogue and information sharing.
A culture of information sharing offers stakeholders such as hiring managers the opportunity to form an opinion about you without person-to-person meetings or any substantial context. Virtually anyone can gather information on another individual connected to the Internet. The era of Internet anonymity is coming to a close.
Additionally, our society has little need for connectors anymore; the Web expands our social circles with search features and social and work networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Each tool helps us find who we want, when we want and with approval or request, expand the number of seats at our Internet-based kitchen table. Something to note as well is that people can still follow us and find out information about us without a request or confirmation of friendship or colleague status.
Your interaction with the Web can adversely impact or benefit your life. The future semantic Web will have an uncanny level of awareness about you, your preferences, friends and associations. The question isn’t whether marketers, bosses, peers and teammates will have access to this information, it is can we ever really control what is out there for the reading or viewing pleasure of others?
Can a second, secret identity on the Internet help you maintain some semblance of Internet privacy?
Wikipedia: Internet Privacy
American Civil Liberties Union: Internet Privacy
Federal Trade Commission: Consumer Privacy
Wall Street Journal: Google inquiry over privacy concerns