Revealing yourself online

10 January, 2005

Isn’t it amazing just how much we reveal about ourselves on our weblogs now?

Some link on took me to a weblog called “Preoccupations“. Within five minutes, I knew who the writer is and where he works, what kind of music he likes, what interests him, his hometown, where he’s been and what he sees.

Of course, all this info is available about me, and any number of other people, but I was just stunned at how quickly I was able to gather together all this information.

See other posts tagged with general and all posts made in January 2005.


10 January, 2005 at 08:19

Of course people are also just as able to present fictitous information about their lives.;) In fact (depending apon your point of view:), any attempt at creating a coherent narrative based on one’s life is a fiction.

I guess more seriously, this is a fantastic resource for social engineering.

11 January, 2005 at 00:20

“Google knows what people write about, what they search for, what they shop for, they know who wants to advertise and how effective those advertisements are, and they’re about to know how we communicate with friends and loved ones. What can they do with all that? Just about anything that collection of Ph.Ds can dream up.” *Jason Kottke (6 April, 2004*What I choose to give away about myself doesn’t keep me awake at night! Should I be worried about what else can be gleaned? Or should I say with Scott McNeally (speaking in 1999, “You already have zero privacy. Get over it”? More thoughts here.

Two other thoughts: through these mechanisms, we are making contacts and communicating in ways hitherto undreamt of. In this I see great potential for future good, but it would be very naive not to see how it could all be exploited to other, less desirable ends. And secondly, what also strikes me is how much is left out about ourselves in these partial, digital traces we are leaving in virtual space: eg, I don’t usually play classical music on my laptop, so it doesn’t appear on Audioscrobbler; much of my reading and teaching never makes it to my blog; etc, etc.

13 January, 2005 at 00:30

I once made a list of all my web accounts and services I had signed up for, partly to see how much information about me I actually put online. Pretty long list, even after unsubscribing from and deleting services and accounts I didn’t use anymore (which in itself kept me occupied for quite a while).

I don’t know about you, but I can still trick myself into believing in some sort of “anonymity” as long as I don’t use my last name nor put my picture online. It’s a comforting illusion, sometimes.

And as David said, it’s almost more interesting to see how much information about ourselves we *don’t* put online. Or rather, which part(s) of us we reveal to certain groups of people we know online.

Babblebabblebabble. 🙂

13 January, 2005 at 00:33

Oops. Speaking of anonymous. That was me in the above comment.


13 January, 2005 at 16:32

Ah, but do they know about your monkey?

20 January, 2005 at 20:37

My monkey? Dear lord, what a terrifying thought 🙂

David, you’re right of course, I hadn’t even thought about what we don’t say about ourselves – my post was more focussed on the speed with which even a stranger can gather large amounts of information about a person (although that information is deliberately selective of course, and potentially misleading) solely from their website.

Andrea, if you’ve managed to keep track of all the services which you’ve signed up to but don’t use then you’re already doing far better than me. 🙂