Tuesday, May 04, 2010

We've known for some time that teenagers have a totally different idea of what "privacy" means than do older generations. (They also think oral sex isn't REALLY sex, but that's another story for another blog.) But for them, privacy IS different. Much the same way people who grow up in a crowded living environment attain privacy by everyone else voluntarily looking away at times, teenagers feel it's the internet's job to "look away" when they're sharing intimate information.

This is going to get them in trouble if they think their SSN and their bank account are intimate information. Information security cannot possibly function in that expectation of privacy. I'll be interested to see how THAT hashes out!

But if we don't think about security for a minute--or if we successfully persuade teens that account information differs from intimate information and needs more vigilance--teens can teach the rest of us that social sharing WORKS.

Why I'm on this train of thought -

Not everyone wants to hear everything. I just don't give a fig about 75% of what I read on Facebook's status feed. But if do care - a lot - about 25% of it. So much so that I will accept the necessity of wading through 75% dreck. And if I were a corporation trying to sell something, I would absolutely be interested. This is demographic data about my customers! I can use this!

My grandparents used to write long, conversational letters. My parents did too, but transitioned into quick talks on the phone (it was pricey back then and my grandparents scolded them for spending too much time on the phone much the way teens feel persecuted for spending too much time online now). When I was growing up, I hardly ever wrote letters, unless it was to make my grandparents happy, but I snuck much longer phone calls with my friends. I transitioned to email at some point because it was free (phone calls still cost something) and I could type fast.

But I don't pour my day-to-day heart into email anymore. Practically speaking, I use it for quick updates or delivering attachments. But I did miss knowing these little events and how my friends would interpret them. What we're doing now in social media is telling our friends (and the world) what's interesting to us right now. Facebook and Twitter are not capturing insightful, thought-out evaluations of events - they're capturing the raw, immediate reaction to events. The same impulse that drives impulse purchases, I daresay.

I say they're valuable. Capitalism says they're gold.

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