Naked in public

Face it,  you’re naked in public.  It’s not a bad dream, it’s our waking moments exposing our every intent and interest, until we are all well – naked.  Before I realized that Foursquare doesn’t give me very much in return, I was checking in across the planet, I gave them my location to tweet at will.  It let my team know where I was without me having to do it.  Call it convenient, call it lazy, call it risky, but you couldn’t call it unique.  Simply, because I allow Twitter and Facebook and so many other applications and even all of my devices to know where I am that I can be traced every minute of every day.  Or at least most minutes of most days.  I know I am not alone.  A friend accidentally left his phone on during a flight and he checked in over the Pacific Ocean.  Oops.

We share our feelings, our frustrations, our playlists, our reviews, our “pins” and our opinions.  From architecture to recipes to DARPA’s new cheetah robot.   Our kids’ artwork, when we’re having our car serviced.  This whole concept of “big data” is centered on very tiny nuggets, pinpoints in fact that tie together data in neat little bundles and amass it until it becomes insight.  And in the end, it’s the ability to connect the miniscule that will have the most value.  There’s precious little remaining under wraps – especially when Target can predict pregnancy based on a few line items on a receipt.

So, why do we do it? Because it makes us real.  Warts and all.  I can publicly decry USAir and express an overwhelming fear of clowns.  One coffee snob can recognize another in about ten minutes in the morning on Twitter.  The music buffs generate continual playlists.  Bots scan that data and invariably send you Walmart giftcard tweets.  However, the bots are not the big risk.  It’s that *someone* can truly imitate you, knowing where you go, and what you do while you’re there.  While the youngest social media users are likely to take privacy risks that scare even the bravest Gen X’ers, we at least acknowledge the reality of broadcasting our every move across the interwebs.  Marketers preying on the public’s deepest fears (whether of dirty dishes or having a disease the newest drug can treat) by being able to better target information and offers is seemingly small in comparison.

Folks, you syndicate your content to the many people and places you put it.  Once you put it out there, you are offered about as much protection from getting burned as a south american bikini bottom.  I am not saying you have to read 9 pages of the iTunes ToS (or any other ToS, Privacy Policy or Ts&Cs).  However, if you are not willing to read it, you can safely bet your data is being absorbed into the Borg.  There are wormholes and sinkholes and blackholes that will suck your data out faster than you put it there.  And that makes you responsible for doing something about it.

  • Change your passwords, every month.
  • Check your credit regularly.
  • Google yourself every other week.
  • Use a social media dashboard to track your presence.
  • Understand the rules about the content you consume and reuse and share – credit the owners liberally.
  • Check your content and sites frequently.  You never know what anomalies you’ll uncover (such as our little weird hiccup over the weekend).

And by all means, accept the risks that an open digital society poses.


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