Don Tapscott @dtapscott writing about changes in attitudes on privacy as the digital age matures. First article in a 7-week series.
It may be that our fundamental ideas about identity and privacy, the strategies that we have collectively pursued, and the technologies that we have adopted, must change and adapt in a rapidly evolving world of connectivity, networking, participation, sharing and collaboration. But this will take a long time; in the meantime there are many challenges and dangers.
To be sure, digital technologies and social media are providing new benefits to sharing personal information, and not just from getting more birthday wishes. There is a real upside to participating in communities, seeing photos, hearing stories or knowing the location of friends and family.
Sharing also helps companies deliver personalized products and services. If you live in an apartment block you won’t see ads on Google or Facebook for lawn mowers.
When we reveal personal information we can help society, too. Every time a gay person comes out, or someone with depression opens up about their condition, they break down stigma and prejudice. Twenty per cent of all patients with the fatal disease ALS share intimate information about their treatments and condition on PatientsLikeMe.com. Tens of thousands of others with rare diseases who use that website report that sharing has helped them better manage their illness.
But it is important to understand the extraordinary volumes of data being generated.
Our digital footprints and shadows are being gathered, bit by bit, megabyte by megabyte, terabyte by terabyte, into personas and profiles and avatars — virtual representations of us, in thousands of locations.
And many of us are willing accomplices in dissolving our own privacy rights in exchange for new services, conveniences and efficiencies.
Is privacy an outmoded idea in the digital age? | Don Tapscott | June 1, 2012 | thestar.com at