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September 20, 2006

Identity Security?

Well, perhaps one of the least considered aspects of graduating was the fact that the login code for this blog would run out. I’d scarcely given it a thought when I happened to speak to someone the other day about the dangers of how how a blog, particularly a blog with a relatively high google rank, means that Unknown Others can find out information about you relatively easily. They asked me to remove any mention of themself that might appear on my blog in an attempt to remove their online presence. Now previously I’d simply ignored this issue of online privacy, basking in the comfort of having a name that generates more than 200,000 google hits, as opposed to the slightly rarer name of the person to whom I was speaking, which typed into google will produce a (correct) postal address and details on the first or second page.

This got me thinking. Should I be attempting to cover all my tracks on the internet? After all, do I really want people to know I take such a careless approach to spelling when deprived access to an automatic spellchecker? Might I one day fail to obtain a job I want because a recruiter disagrees with my opinions on an obscure sci-fi film?

What I concluded was that frankly, it’s too late. I’m prepared to believe that just about any digital information sent into cyberspace can be later found, bouncing round the virtual cosmos like the electromagnetic echoes of the big bang. I think that if someone really wanted to do so, and were prepared to spend the money, they could find tracks of just about everything I’ve ever done online.

So frankly, I believe that the internet should be regarded as “public”, in the same way that, say, the supermarket is. Anything I say in any online format, I shall, or should, regard in the same way as I would regard something said publically. In other words, I shall refrain from saying anything obviously stupid, and be fully aware that anything I do say might come back to haunt me.

Which prompts the question, should I try to minimise my online presence? Well, if you think about it, an increasing amount of “life” is conducted online, which means that anyone whose name fails to produce a “reasonable” paper trail on google could easily be suspected of hiding something….

So, I think I’d better keep this blog going…

May 09, 2006

entering the blogosphere

Amazing, I discovered today that I'm not the last person in the world to get a blog, as I'd previously thought. I might as well be, though, as the person even less in touch than me is actually my dad. Says something about my family, I know.

Anyway, I launched into a half–hour lecture on blogging and New Media, shifting paradigms of communication and all that, and continued for quite some time before realising I didn't really have much more of clue about what I was talking about than he did. Which lead me to ask – what the hell is a blog and what's the point, for god's sake?

(This is of course, one of the old favourites for people starting out blogging, isn't it? Stay tuned for a) angst about my life, with particular attention paid to details of my diet; and b) a detailed description of my cat.)

Now, both these questions could lead to long, pseudo–intellectual discussions on the nature of communication, changing modes of social interaction and the call to a new Digital Democracy: but you, dear reader, have heard all that many times before. Instead I shall answer both questions briefly: a) a blog is a body of random writings placed online in an attempt to deny the division between people who get professsionally published: i.e. those who have something interesting to say, and the rest of us: i.e. those who don't; and b) it serves to reinforce one's fragile ego and waste some time – without resorting to internet snooker, which is what the guy on the computer in front of me is doing right now.

So – that's how I define what I'm doing. I'm not playing internet snooker. Everything else is up for grabs.

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