[FoRK] Seperation of the Concerned

Luis Villa <luis at tieguy.org> on Tue Feb 5 08:25:43 PST 2008

On Feb 5, 2008 11:07 AM, Simon Wistow <simon at thegestalt.org> wrote:
> So, a while back Luis (I think) asked where the Six Apart Open Social
> Graph crawler was. Clearly we had the code. I posted saying that it was
> being ported to be asynchronous and that it'd be coming soon which was
> *sort* of true. Then Google released their version and lo! the
> blogosphere did rumble into life and pick sides.
> So whilst it was true we were porting it to be asynchronous (and ended
> up designing a whole new bit of infrastructure in the process), I wasn't
> being entirely forthcoming ...
> http://www.sixapart.com/about/news/2008/02/the_social_graph_api_and_surprises.html

First off, kudos for trying to do the right thing. I tend to fall into
the 'this is impossible' camp[1], but I respect what you're trying to

It might be useful to think of (and publicize) what you're doing less
in terms of privacy and more in terms of faceted personality. In other
words, what you're saying in the post about proactively (but perhaps
imperfectly) separating linkedin and myspace seems to me both more
plausible and persuasive than some notion that you've actually got
privacy left that your technology will somehow protect.

> Given the sharp minds and strong opinions of the FoRK collective I
> wondered what y'all had to say. I know Rohit was at sg-foo last weekend
> (which I missed because of visa issues) for example.

Ooh. Rohit, do share.

> I'm sort of torn - the bluntly pragmatic geek in me says "Well, the
> information is out there so people should expect what's coming to them"
> but the other part of me says "Yeah, but that's not the way the world
> works".
> In some ways it reminds me of Deja News (and subsequently Google
> Groups) and the fears people had of that - that old stuff said and
> forgotten long ago in a completely different world would come back and
> haunt them. One mailing list I'm on deliberately doesn't have archives,
> private or no, so that people are free to express opinions without fear
> of long term repercussions.
> On the other hand the predicted armageddon from Deja News and Groups
> didn't manifest so ... is there a lesson to be learnt?

To be fair, only the smallest subset of older geeks had any investment
in that 'armageddon'. The current wave of data publication is of  an
entirely different magnitude, both in volume and in the demographics
of the people involved. So the analogy is strained.

> At least when you
> can map the Social Graph you can see how your personas are connected and
> take steps to disassociate them where possible.

My gut sense is that disassociation doesn't help; by the time most
people will think to do that the data will already have gotten out in
the wild and it will be too late.


[1] digital publication *and* meaningful privacy is impossible without
functional, remotely revocable DRM.

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