March 19th, 2006

Web 2.0 vs. Privacy

by

Del.icio.us just announced a new feature, created due to popular demand, that allows users to save links privately — this is astonishing, like Starbucks introducing a 4oz decaffeinated coffee that sells for 75 cents — it’s completely antithetical to the whole concept.

Could this be the beginning of the privacy backlash against the Web 2.0 “social” lovefest? If nothing else, it raises fundamental questions about the mainstream viability of the Web 2.0 value proposition, which assumes that everyone will find value in sharing everything in public.

Here’s a Web 2.0 test: pick any of the hundreds of Web 2.0 apps the enable users to “share” and see if you can find on the site an explanation of WHY sharing, tagging, and being social with your media is a GOOD thing. Do any of them explain the value of sharing, or do they all just assume, a priori, that all users will think this is just the best thing ever?

The privacy concerns are all around, from Google’s subpoena fight to the permanence of everything we post online, good, bad and ugly (thanks, Google).

Web 2.0 only works if we’re willing to cede any grasp on privacy by sharing everything we do online — even everything we think, through tagging, commenting, voting, etc.

What if most of us decide that the Patriot Act is bad enough? How can Web 2.0 be successful in an online world where 60% of long-time Internet users are deleting cookies because of privacy concerns?

Maybe this is the real digital generation gap. According to the Jupiter Research study where the 60% stat comes from:

Consumers showed a clear age divide when it came to paying attention to privacy or security. Only 33 percent of respondents between the ages 18 and 24 said they paid attention to stories and articles about Internet privacy and security, compared to 62 percent of those ages 45 and older.

It’s been much discussed (including here) how the 25-and-under crowd is more than willing to expose themselves on MySpace.

Maybe Web 2.0 just needs to write off everyone over 45, and everything will be fine. (Given the disorienting and cluttered design conventions, it pretty much has already.)

  • Mark

    You ignorance is astounding. Here is a clear case against your verbose, pointless and vain article:

    del.icio.us is a bookmarking site. del.icio.us lets you share bookmarks.

    It can either only let you share bookmarks, in which case you share bookmarks you want to share, or it can let you share some bookmarks, which adds a new functionality that lets you bookmark your sites in a computer / browser agnostic way, including those you don’t want to be made public. Did I say not made public? Oh my gosh, I meant that you don’t want to share.

    So your emphasis WHY sharing is GOOD and your tearful lament on the fall web2.0 and civilisation is laughable wrong and pathetically misguided.

    Web2.0 (a phrase I hate, but hey, we gotta have up for dullards like you, something tangible to show a change, an incremental number) can be taken as a two pronged result of user fed data sites, as well as data sharing / flexible data access (xml/json across domains, mixing your calendar from google, with weather from wunderground, train schedules from virgin, and show times for after your meeting. OMG I said sharing!

    Sharing doesn’t mean YOU sharing YOUR data. It means being able to pull data from sites.

    It has nothing to do with privacy, you willingness to share.

    Now, look back up at your post and re-evaluate your existence on this planet after you wrote:

    "privacy backlash"
    "raises fundamental questions"
    "mainstream viability of the Web 2.0 value proposition"

    What a shit load of overly written crap presumptuous, empty, lethargic and trite bollocks.

    "which assumes that everyone will find value in sharing everything in public."

    What? everyone will find value sharing? what assumes?

    "Web 2.0 only works if we’re willing to cede any grasp on privacy by sharing everything we do online"

    Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. Wrong. Some web2.0 apps involve sharing, communicating, building up content from other people. The idea of del.icio.us providing on online bookmarking service for 'PRIVATE' bookmarks somehow warrants you to decide that all Web2.0 revolves around open sharing of everything we do is poppycock.

    You now qualify bookmarks with the word 'private' as if bookmarks themselves are by default public.

    "How can Web 2.0 be successful in an online world where 60% of long-time Internet users are deleting cookies because of privacy concerns?"

    Now deleting cookies poses a threat to web2.0? How silly of you. I do not have the patience not the inclination to educate you on your foolishness here. Can I at least be comforted with the fact that you understand you have written the most uneducated post I have ever written?

    And now over 45's find web2.0 cluttered. In fact, some misguided fools would say web2.0 is cleaner, simpler design and navigation.

    Maybe I missed that part.

    Do yourself, myself, and everyone else a favour:

    Stop writing, remove yourself from the gene pool. That would save me having to see your posts track-backed onto the end of otherwise innocuous posts.

  • td

    Karl - just a quick comment about Industrious Kid and imbee.com .

    First, our company is self-funded by the founders. We've invested in our own business b/c we see a real need.

    Second, we're not planning on ad revenue for this product - we're building other products that are pure revenue plays. imbee.com is about uninterupted fun for kids. It's as simple as that.

  • Are you so very sure your average 15 year old on MySpace is aware of that decision? Really?

    Are parents sitting down with their children and going “now remember joey - everything you post on the public web will be cached *forever* so you better think twice about sharing initimate details of your friendships - or even the books you’ve read - because there *will* be consequences”.

    You think so? Really?

    I don't think kids have the slightest idea about the potential long-term repercussions of what they're doing. In fact, I said as much in my post that you cited, above:

    And if you're posting information about yourself on the internet, realize there could be consequences down the road.

    The crux of my argument is that it won't matter what information you've posted out there, because *everybody* will be in the same boat.

    It is transitioning between here and then (which Michael Parekh thinks will take a generation, and I agree) that will be awkward.

    Kareem

  • Oh, and and just to illustrate how far we've come in just four years:

    As recently as 2002, there were concerns over Amazon.com's use of our data. Data voluntarily given out of public view, data that would have needed a warrant to acquire by the government, data that a hiring company or a future girlfriend would not have access to.

    Amazon.com must be kicking themselves. The forerunners of participatory media didn't foresee that we'd throw such concerns out the window with the right technology/ui/hype-machine. This article on Amazon especially seems silly now doesn't it?

    So here we are, shrugging and saying "deal with it" at kids revealing who their friends are, what music they love/hate, what politicians they love/hate, pictures, what books they've read, what they did last week in the lunchroom, in *full* public view. An activity that has just started - just started - these past two to three years.

  • I'm not suggesting 'putting the genie back in the lamp' or even trying.

    But what is starting to happen - I'd say since blogging started to take hold - and now since social participatory media is grown exponentially (of which a service I run can be defined) - is an acceleration of that loss of privacy - by *choice*.

    We'rr moving - now - right now - because finally the barriers have fallen and it's so easy - to having our identities exist in the super public (new Danah Boyd essay). It's not fear mongering or pining to urge for conversation and thinking over the long term consequences of what is being decided - by us - today.

    Far too many are concerned about the 'threat' to morals this can bring. The far more worrisome threat - as far as I can see - is from those entities who can, and will, use the data we are now willingly giving up - in ways we can't imagine - and because we don't want to.

    There should be warnings - and in fact I will add one to my service now that I think of it - that state - "while we respect your privacy, since your participation is public - there is nothing we can do to control foreign spiders - such as search engines and aggregators - from collecting - collating - and re-using your participation in ways that our out of our control".

    We are choosing to live like celebrities - with public lives - and that means we will have the same loss of privacy they deal with - without being celebrities ourselves.

    And that's *by choice*. No one is forcing me to blog or post links to del.icio.us. It is *by choice*. I'm personally giving up my privacy fully aware of what the long term repurcussions are.

    Are you so very sure your average 15 year old on MySpace is aware of that decision? Really?

    Are parents sitting down with their children and going "now remember joey - everything you post on the public web will be cached *forever* so you better think twice about sharing initimate details of your friendships - or even the books you've read - because there *will* be consequences".

    You think so? Really?

    The evidence says entirely otherwise. It shows a complete lack of awareness. Instead we will learn the hard way I think.

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