Is too much transparency a good thing?

One from the vaults.

I finally got round to setting up some vanity searches and today, one of the feeds threw up something from an abortive attempt at blogging that I’d totally forgotten about. Which is normal enough, but in one of those weirdly serendipitous coincidence thingies that seem to be plaguing my life at the moment, the post makes a nice pairing with Chris’ post on a Bournemouth Councillor being rather opaque and sock-puppet like. So as it’s Tuesday and I’m lacking other blogging inspiration, I thought I’d treat you to some of my fledgling efforts.

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Is too much transparency a bad thing? April 17th, 2007

Short answer is yes.

Obviously the world and his dog now blogs but many are finding blogging just too damn slow. As anyone who has posted here will know it can take some time to craft a decent post, checking links, getting your thoughts straight and proof reading. Fortunately for those of with ADHD there are now several nano or microblogging platforms which allow you to update your reader on a minute by minute basis of all the minutia of your day to day life.

The most popular is Twitter and there is also Jaiku. Sign up and you only need text, IM or email your pearls of wisdom and all your friends can be updated. You can also have your profile set public so that total strangers that you are bored or filling in paperwork, or that it is going to be expensive to get your car fixed.

However just as Peter Parker found out*, with greater transparency comes great accountability. The problem is that you can’t tell who is reading your posts and how they might react. Yes of course you can set it private and so that only your friends can see your latest musings but where’s the fun, and more importantly self-affirmation and ego stoking potential, in that?

Why am I waffling on about this? Well because following a tweet from A-list blogger Steve Rubel, the editor of PC Mag in the US has threatened to black list his company Edelman. You can read the full skinny here, but the gist is Steve tweeted that he tosses his free copy of PC Mag in the bin, ergo tossing the 11 million readers in the bin too”

As Jim Louderback is Senior Vice President and Editor In Chief of Ziff Davis’ Consumer Tech Division says:

“But then I started thinking about what this means for our relationship with Edelman. One of the company’s top execs had stated, in a public forum, that my magazine (and by extension, my audience) was useless to him. He wasn’t even interested in seeing whether we’d covered one of his clients. Did the rest of Edelman think like Steve? Were we no better than fishwrap to the entire company?

Should I instruct the staff to avoid covering Edelman’s clients? Ignore their requests for meetings, reviews and news stories? Blacklist the “Edelman.com” email domain in our exchange servers, effectively turning their requests into spam? If we’re not relevant to Edelman’s employees, then how could we be relevant to their clients?”

So if you do blog, or god forbid microblog, remember to think about who can read your thoughts and how they may react.

*Well he would have if he was a blogger rather than a superhero
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I think I should point out that this was written before I started using Twitter and was somewhere around Level 1 of Twitter acceptance, except probably slightly more scathing, disparaging and generally sweary about it. I think I’m now around level 5, though the phrase “authentic conversations” still has me throwing up in my mouth slightly.

I would say the two main lessons from these two posts are:
  • Anonymity is a myth for most internet users, ppl can and will find out who you are so unless you have mad haxx0r sk1llz, don’t bother to try and hide
  • Be careful what you publish in a any public domain or forum, because it will come back and bite you on the arse at some point

0 thoughts on “Is too much transparency a good thing?

  1. I think the impact of what you say is going to be determined by how ‘big’ your personality and following is online e.g. Steve Rubel had problems because he has hundreds and thousands following his blog and twitter feed.

    I’m sure that if I said the same thing, that I wouldn’t have such a big impact!

    But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take accountability as these things can often come back to haunt you.

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