Sunday, December 30, 2007

On Privacy

Here's the executive summary: You have none. Neither do I. I just admit it to myself and to others.

Now, for the slightly more involved version. I just read an article online in the New York Times about employers' checking up on people through their electronic footprints. This is annoying, but it's not news. As long as there have been ways to check up on people, it's been done by employers. In my case, I made a decision to share some of what I'm about online in a blog. Seven years before that, I put a homepage on the Internet that said stuff about me, too. I had a (now pretty much defunct) subsite dedicated to pictures of my son and his world that I updated every month or two until he was three years old - I just didn't publish the URL but I'm sure it can be found. I never took it down. I have a personal website still, a blog, and a website that represents my business. Plenty of information can be had about me just from the other digital footprints I've left over the last twenty years or so, and I've come to be pretty much OK with that.

Simply put, I know what I've put online myself. I keep track of what people say about me that can easily be found (GIYF). If I wrote it, I'm comfortable with a reader knowing it. I don't say a lot that I could, and I keep a lot of details intentionally vague. But overall my life is fairly transparent. I don't have a MySpace, or a Facebook, or a LinkedIn. Just what you see here. And if you're interested enough in my life and thoughts to read this twaddle, good for you. It's really not that big a deal. I live just as much of my life in public as I probably would without an Internet - it's just that "public" in the Internet world is really public.

Rant off - for a little followup thought to close out most of 2007 (I'll probably write my Traditional Year-End Post tomorrow night), business was good this year. The one thing I'm thinking of doing, though, is creating a company blog on my company website in the next few weeks. One of the features if I do so will probably be a "hall of shame" where I'll name the customers who don't pay their bills. You see, it's not really worth my while to join D&B, and I can't report bad debts to the credit reporting companies without using D&B or hiring a collections company. And letters/e-mails/phone calls don't always work. So I think naming names might be a good way to handle things. After all, Google knows all, and being named a deadbeat in Google is almost as bad nowadays as a credit report.

Not decided for certain on this - but I'm leaning towards it. I've got one guy who still owes me $1500 from 2006!