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A New Social Order: The High Cost of Web 2.0 Networking

This might not be a popular perspective but I think it’s something worth considering. My legal training is always looking for the counter-opinion that might not be so obvious on first blush. So please bear with me as I take a look at the potential dark side of social networking.

A Brief History: 

Not long ago the web was all about exclusivity. There were private bulletin boards, private chat rooms, private newslists and private newsletters.  

Then a new technology emerged called blogging that was primarily for geeks speaking to geeks from their own personal podium. Some blogs required registration just to leave a comment and others offered no commenting at all.

Along came RSS push technology making it easier to share information. The public soon saw blogging as an opportunity to self-publish whilst the search engines eagerly gobbled the information up like online transcribers.

But that created a problem for the geeks so a new blogging hierarchy emerged via so-called a-lists as the geeks tried to drown out the noise (i.e. the public) and be heard above the din. 

It wasn’t long afterwards that online marketers and splogpreneurs saw an opportunity to make money off the public. Blog networks sprang up all over the place to carve out their little empires.

The corporate bigwigs weren’t far behind and could smell the money all the way over to Wall Street. So the next thing you knew entire websites (called social networks) were being built to encourage us to “share” our information.

But they took “sharing” to the nth level by asking us to “share” our private information such as birth dates, etc.

Now everybody’s in on the act and it’s all about ”socializing” the web. I suppose it’s a good thing the cold war is over or some might consider it a communist conspiracy. But I digress…

So I was wondering:

1.  Is the “social” web just a backlash against the elite mentality of the past? 

2. Is this just another cycle … a trend that will eventually be replaced with something new down the road?

3. Or will the openness of the web end up compromising our privacy, so much so that we will long for the good old days?

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction:

As for me I believe we’re in another cycle, much like the music and fashion industries.

History students know that every generation rebels against the previous one. Generation X wears their hair shorter than their hippie parents. Rap boldly contrasts with the musicalness of the 80’s, and so on.

After more people cry over their privacy being compromised by the social networks, I believe you will see the open web putting up walls again. It’s just human nature and another history lesson learned.

Lessons learned too late:

But by then it may be too late. My concern is the damage will be done and there might not be any turning back the clock. The information will already be out there for easy pickings and the highest bidder.

Today everything is about the web being open. We have open standards, open architecture, open API, and OpenID. But more importantly users are encouraged to “open” up and share their private information on the premise that they can be found by that old school mate or long lost lover.

But as we learned from the lessons of Facebook, it’s not only just our old friends who are seeking information. Online marketers, advertisers and government agencies are using the information for their own purposes.

We don’t need an evil empire like George Orwell’s “Big Brother” to spy on us. We are willingly giving that information away.

Another brief history lesson:

Does anybody still remember the human rights and feminism movement? How many people today believe it has gone too far? How many women wish they could leave their jobs and go back to being full time moms again?

I’m just asking so please don’t shoot the messenger because it seems to me the question is now moot. Society and the economy has adjusted to a two-income family so that decision has already been made for us.

If you don’t believe me then just go shopping for a house or a new car and you will find your answer.

Wrapping it up:

Let me close by leaving you with these parting thoughts. Do you really think that we can turn back the clock now? (Rhetorical question). So why should we expect anything different of the new “social” order?

Indeed web 2.0 social networking has its benefits, but it can also come at a high cost. Are you really willing to pay the price?

UPDATE 09-19-08: Still need more convincing? Then read this article about Employers using Social Network sites to spy on their employees.

Written August 13th, 2008 by | 22 Comments | Filed under: Blog Tips, Featured Tips, Social Media Tips , , ,

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There are 22 Comments so far to “A New Social Order: The High Cost of Web 2.0 Networking”

  1. Yes, the progress has been phenomenal. I worked at Computer Sciences in college and the HP and IBM computers were the size of refrigerators. Pre Bill Gates, for sure. Just Google alone has really changed the internet experience and our vocabulary (”just google it”, I think google is a verb now). I am trying to stay up with technology living in Costa Rica but it is so rapid, I fall behind. I do have a new laptop with a built in camera. I’m scared to open it.
    Yes, I’m afraid I will end up like my grandmother. She could never understand how a microwave worked so she used hers as a breadbox, storing her bread and crackers there. :)

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    Reply by: Blog Bloke at 8:33 pm said...

    I’ve heard of flying toasters, but breadbox microwaves? Hmm.

    I started off programming mainframes until I built an Apple 11 plus clone and was hooked on desktop computing forever.

    If you don’t want the laptop ship it to me. I’ll put it to good use ;-)

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  2. The compromise of our privacy is not an issue that the online social community need worry about. By actively participating in the online social community you seek to throw off the shrouds of paranoia induced privacy that for so long cloaked us.

    The online social community is a medium through which you can share ideas, thoughts, opinions. You can have open topical debates. You can meet people you would have never otherwise had the opportunity to encounter.

    Think about it for a second. The online social community rapid expansion can be attributed directly to the events that transpired on September 11, 2001. Sound crazy? Here me out.

    Since that day, at least in America, we have been subjected to a non-stop psychological warfare operation. Slowly each person is being programmed to trust those around us less and less. Humans being a social creature by nature subconsciously look for ways to fulfill their needs of social interaction. The current online social community explosion is the birth child of that need.

    The previous in all in my humble opinion only of course.

    Trey Andersons last blog post…Evil Movies Is A Tree Hugger

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    Reply by: Blog Bloke at 4:53 am said...

    I think you misunderstood me Trey.

    I’m all for the sharing of ideas. It’s the abuse of our personal (and private) information that concerns me. Only just recently I posted another news item that the Social Networks are being stalked by identity thieves.

    I don’t consider it “paranoia” to be on guard for our rights and privileges as citizens. In fact I consider it irresponsible to be cavalier about those very freedoms that our forefathers died for.

    But today young people especially are naively giving away their private information. I’m just doing my best to sound the alarm.

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    Reply by: asithi at 7:28 am said...

    My two youngest sisters were sent off to college with horrifying stories of ID theft from me. When they first had internet access in their teens, there was the understanding that they do not put up any identifying information about themselves. And they know that I regularly google them to make sure they are not putting themselves at risk on the internet. Call me big sister, but I always tell them that ‘if they do not want me or my parents to find out about it, don’t post it up.’

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    Reply by: Blog Bloke at 1:33 pm said...

    I like that idea. I’ll have to tell it to my daughter. Thanks.

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    Reply by: Trey Anderson at 12:33 pm said...

    Duly noted sir. :-D

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    Reply by: Blog Bloke at 1:30 pm said...

    Thanks for helping me to clarify that Trey. I guess I need to brush up on my communication skills. :-)

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  3. Good thing I do not have to worry too much about “catching up” with technology in my profession. I can get by very well just knowing a new tricks with Microsoft Office and a little bit of CAD.

    asithis last blog post…Wedding Blues

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    Reply by: Blog Bloke at 4:43 am said...

    You should share your knowledge with the rest of us some time.

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  4. It’s new perspective, Thanks for your share

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  5. I’ve been around awhile. I had one of those BBS systems back in the early 70’s (started out with a 1200 baud modem). Time passes and things change. Back then we used to verify age by having the user mail in a copy of their driver’s license. But that was long ago and now is now. As time passes the Internet or WWW, as we know it, will keep changing. I don’t know what it is changing to or when it is going to happen but I do hope that along the way I lose nothing of myself. Personal information? Had to give my Email to write this, but hey, what have I got to hide… Nice provocative post BB.

    vandamoniums last blog post…How Low Can You Go?

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    Reply by: Blog Bloke at 4:55 pm said...

    Hi Vandamonium.

    I promise not to abuse your email, even if it isn’t your real one. ;-)

    Cheers, and thanks for dropping by.

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  6. Web 2.0 is great for the casual surfer. It makes the internet a whole lot more useful. However, anonymity is going to be something of the past. Everyone will be able to google anyone and find out everything.

    Crafts for Kidss last blog post…Math Toss Maddness Game

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    Reply by: Blog Bloke at 7:02 pm said...

    Which brings up another point. Why do we need Social Networks if we can already “Google” it? Anonymity is only as private as we choose but once we willingly give away our information onto the internet it becomes public and we can’t take it back.

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    Reply by: Kids Bible Crafts at 5:13 am said...

    I totally agree. I can see anonymity becoming something sought after. I bet there will be people out there offering services to clean up the internet one day. Just like how everyone today is a self proclaimed SEO expert. In twenty years googling your name and finding nothing about yourself will be invaluable.

    Kids Bible Craftss last blog post…Dog Treat Holder Craft

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    Reply by: Blog Bloke at 5:13 pm said...

    Thanks for the biz idea ;-)

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  7. People usually don’t understand what so-called “web 2.0″ is..

    Great post. Looking forward to more posts like this, so I bookmarked you :-)

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    Reply by: Blog Bloke at 6:46 pm said...

    Honestly, I don’t think anybody else does either ;-)

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  9. Great post.

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