One: On Monday morning, Fred Wilson posted a little joke. Louis Gray had noted that a new addition to the Twitter staff appeared as a member of the “twitter team” list on Twitter before any announcement of the hire came out of the company, and Wilson added: “Hmm. No need to send out that obligatory email now. Just check the Twitter company lists to find out who is changing jobs.”
Two: I think that his comment was mostly some early morning humor, but like many good jokes it was poking at something serious. For a little more perspective, let’s add in a quote from Andy Weissman’s tight post (also Monday) on online distribution: “I don’t think information (content) wants to be free. I think it just wants to be distributed friction-free.”
Three: the final piece of perspective…a month or so ago I had a day where I was hit by a tidal wave of information: shortly after a couple of meetings, I was notified that people who had come up in the conversations (or people from the companies discussed) had started following me on Twitter and/or Tumblr. I saw via last.fm and Tumblr that a friend had started listening to an album I had passed along a week or so before. Another friend twittered enthusiastically from a restaurant I had recommended a couple of days earlier.
Now in most—probably all—of these cases I’m sure that the people involved realized that these breadcrumbs would come my way, but none of it was provided as explicit feedback. The nature of the ecosystem [infosystem, technosystem, whatever] that many of us are now exploring is such that an increasing number of our actions become input, with the outputs not yet clearly defined.
Go: consider that the benefits and pleasures of putting real information about ourselves online are becoming increasingly compelling, that many of the new sharing services work hard to be focused, simple, and easy to use, and that mobile devices are making “always and everywhere” access to these services closer to a reality.
Online privacy is becoming as much an issue of information flow as it is an issue of traditional information security, and (more significant, I suspect) the bright line between online and offline is starting to blur. We’re starting to see interesting benefits from integrating the online world into the real time living of our daily lives, but it’s very new territory.
We’ve seen this sort of integrated life appear as art and experiment, but the day-to-day reality of it is going to be something very different. It’s not about the omnipresent archival documentation that caught our imagination early on, but about making new kinds of interactions possible. And as with the simple act of adding someone to a Twitter list creating ripples, the implications of what we’re doing are not yet entirely clear. Make no mistake, this change is happening, so far better to try to understand it than to pretend we can stop it. Be apprehensive, yes, and be thoughtful, but be excited.