I used to be pretty intensely private about my life, at least when it came to sharing online. That started to change for me when I met Twitter, and slowly and tentatively started putting a little more of myself in the public eye with each tweet.
I’ve been exploring the new Timeline view in Facebook, and I love it.
I did, however, have a peek at what the ‘public’ sees when they visit my profile. Turns out a lot, despite my tight settings. Typical. I suppose this is the way things are going.
There’s a war on privacy here, and I’m giving up the fight. And I’m going to try to do it amicably.
Instead of fretting every time Facebook purportedly changes their layout and along with it, your sharing settings, I’m making my profile pretty much public to the world, and, as I would always be anyway, being mindful of what I post.
There’s not really much here any more that I wouldn’t have posted on Twitter anyway, and I realise that anything posted with even the most privacy settings is never guaranteed to stay that way.
This goes hand in hand with my more open ‘friending’ policy I’ve adopted over the last couple of years, as well as the increasing blending of my personal and professional lives.
I’ve made this point before: If I get turned down for a job, or turn off a potential partner because of something I’ve posted in the past, I probably am better off without that company or person.
It helps that I work and live in the tech world (as opposed to law or finance, where this kind of attitude is generally looked down upon), where my colleagues, peers and dates tend to live just as publicly as me, if not more.
In exchange for my private data over the years, I’ve had access to the fantastic services rendered by the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Google, including not only a massive suite of tools to manage myself, my data, and my relationships, but also the creation of a digital experience that’s moulded to me.
I’ve gotten strange looks when I’ve said this in the past, but I like highly targeted ads. I’ve always liked advertising in general, but I love when an ad speaks to me, reminds me to do or buy something I probably had an interest in anyway, and allows me to interact with it.
So no, I don’t worry about my privacy, and I’m happy that we’re parting ways maturely and on such good terms.
But what do I worry about?
I worry about building a filter bubble I’ll never be able to see beyond, or scarily, realise that I’m even in. I like that my digital life is relevant to me, but I don’t want to be left ignorant of important events, news or knowledge just because some algorithms determine it’s not the type of thing I’d click on.
I hope to see a rebellion here, a series of services I can hook my existing digital self into that will help me explore the world outside my bubble without getting drowned in information.
More than anything, I worry about not owning any of this data. I realised the other day that my Facebook profile is among my most prized possessions – my contacts, my history, everything I’ve said and all of these cherished messages from friends for the last few years – and it’s something I don’t even own. In a snap, all of that history and information could be taken away, and I would be rendered heartbroken, as if someone had burned boxes full of my photo albums, diaries, and little black books.
Unlike other aspects of this greater issue of privacy, this data ownership is something that I can at least do a little something about. I’m going to be making an effort to publish more to here and push to my networks rather than the other way around. Now that my networks are essentially open to the world, I’m going to treat them like subscription channels into various aspects of my life, all fed from a central repository of all of the stuff I create online.
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Coming up at BraveNewTalent are some exciting times. We’re growing in clients, revenue, and users at a fantastic rate, have appeared in a stack of national papers this week, and as a team, are having an absolute blast.
Case in point: This weekend, when we held our first official ”hackathon“. We needed a Facebook application, fast. With our client list growing, we needed to create a destination for Talent to find employers that they are suited for, find friends (and friends of friends) that work there, and get their hands on the right job postings.
It had to be engaging. It had to be slick. It had to sum up all of the hard work we’d put into a full API revamp and design overhaul we’d been working on for the last several months. It had to be something we’d all be proud of.
Thinking fast and talking smooth, I gathered a team, all of whom joined and contributed with gusto:
- Joanna Chlasta, our rock-star back-end developer
- Dimitris Havlidis, our front-end ninja
- Ed Kendall, our uber-dedicated bug-squashing intern
- Andrew Walker, Joanna’s other half, and a front-end developer at Nature.com
- Simon Cast, a fellow Head of Product at PeerIndex
- Harry Marr, a developer at Conversocial, borrowed for the day from the office on the ground floor
- Eamonn Gahan, a Facebook developer with iPlatform, also borrowed (thanks!)
While Ramon, our marketing guru, couldn’t make the weekend on short notice, he’d submitted some contributions by Sunday morning with his thoughts on how we can bring it to the masses. Lucian, of course, was there, tweeting our progress, bouncing ideas around and making sure everyone was fuelled and fed. The support and enthusiasm of all was infectious.
With this team, we set out what we meant to do. By the end of the second day, we’d created the app to about 80% completion – a working prototype, essentially, which we could begin showing off, getting feedback on, and coming up with a grand plan for the launch.
The big thing that we gained, however, was not the app itself. The personal growth in the team speaks for itself. We all learned a little bit more about each other, stretched our personal knowledge, and (dare I say?) bonded in those late nights and early mornings. We made something we were proud of, and we had fun doing it.
As a result, we’ve got an application ready to be launched on Facebook, which was built entirely in-house (with a little help from our friends!), and also picked up the knowledge needed to take it to the next level.
There was nothing quite as rewarding (although the lunch at Inamo came close) as being able to show off the completed app on Monday morning to the rest of our team, who with fresh eyes, immediately ooh-ed and ahh-ed (and picked and prodded) over what we’d created that weekend.
We continue work on the app this weekend, pulling in the last loose ends, and plan on launching next week.
I can’t wait for the next opportunity for a “hackathon”. It’s not something to be done every weekend, but it was worth every moment for this one.
Any other good stories of successful (or not so successful) hack-type weekends? As a product person, I’d love to hear about others pulling this off… and seeing the result!