The golden rule still rules

It’s not about privacy, it’s about trust. This is what the social networks keep getting wrong. It’s about trust that works on a micro scale and balances on a macro scale. Sure, my privacy is important, but it’s the trust that is carelessly discarded that kills relationships.

Can I trust you with my information? The minute you automatically select a trust option that is not in my best interest, I begin to question your integrity. Now I append “and for how long?” Regardless of corporate rationalizations and machinations, the user/participant/player’s personal self-interest remains uppermost.

If you choose to default it to agree with your marketing plan, you’ve lost me. Because that turns our relationship into a prisoner’s dilemma protocol. I start our relationship attempting to be friends, but if you defect, it becomes tit for tat. And it seems invariably, that one defection eventually leads to another. Each seemingly inconsequential default selection you make in your best interest finds my micro level of trust further eroded, until there’s no macro level left to balance anything out. And then I no longer have a reason to integrate you into my life. Somewhat unsurprisingly, it’s seeming more and more like online social networks are a commodity. And that means it’s a buyer’s market.

Like a precog, I can hear the new communication paradigms being formed in the heads of intrepid early/mid/late stage funding founding partners and established C-level executives right now, “We’re establishing a new and vital communication system. And we’ll be worth billions, maybe even trillions. Everyone will have to use this social network or risk being left behind. We call the shots. We invent the reality.”

This thinking assumes that my ability to connect with my friends—my friends whom I trust—is entirely impeded. Au contraire. So-called old technology still manages that just fine. Phones still make and receive calls. Text messages still arrive promptly. Email still gets delivered. Even mail still arrives at my doorstep 6 days out of the week.

Yes, eventually all data will be lost. It has a lifecycle akin to my own. The need for permanence arises from fear—fear of irrelevance, of inconsequence. But the reality insurgents are already at the door. They want to talk about the new growth opportunities opening up at MySpace.


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