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Weblog privacy

09/15/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

This one came up today in a discussion with a relative. She'd found a weblog belonging to yet another relative that was expressing some fairly personal information, and was wondering about the ethics of reading what's functionally a private diary. My feeling is relatively straightforward: post your writing on a weblog -- in this case blogger.com -- and it's public. You may own the copyright on the expression, but the content is now fair game for all.

I don't really see this as an issue. Want to express your feelings in writing? Buy a paper diary. Want to share your feelings amongst a group of friends? Open up a private mailing list, password protect the discussion group, or better still, have a cup of coffee with them. Post on blogger? Better be willing to live with that one when everybody and their dog finds it.

Using only Google, I can still find posts I made to newgroups dating back to early 1995 and other mailing lists. Using a variety of other tools, I can practically build a complete history of whoever I want. This stuff doesn't go away (unless you're using Ritchie's weblog :)). Even with the private mailing lists and discussion groups above; once it's in a digital form, it's out of your control and spreading in the wild is just a forward click away (or a miss-clicked CC:)

My personal rule of thumb: if you're not comfortable with your parents, siblings or friends reading what you wrote, don't write it.


1 comment

Comment from: Nimble [Member]  

Those rules go double for anyone making a MySpace page!

The onus really is on the author, not on the reader. It’s surprising what people will put up on their blogs or pages, but some people are honestly compelled to share their feelings to an extent that would be profoundly uncomfortable to most of the rest of us. It’s hard to fathom if you’re usually in a group of geeks, but TMIS (Too Much Information Syndrome) is prominent in some other social spheres, like a significant percentage of my older Scottish relatives ;)

Sometimes I wonder if it’s a matter of giving dirt on yourself in the hopes of getting good gossip in return for your offering. Sometimes, it just seems like people will just burst if they don’t get something off their chest.

On the topic of misdirected CC:s, sometimes it can turn out for the best. After all, Dena and I are married now (*chuckle*) :)

On another note, I see you’re taking to blogging quite well :) It’s a little bit different than posting the occasional thing in the usual suspects list, because you feel a little freer to opine and go off-topic, as nobody’s “forced” to have it in their inbox :)

I may have to start adding the nimblebrain blog to my Google home page just to keep track :)

09/16/06 @ 10:44
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