Via Terrell Russell a report on Will Harris's piece on the danger that Web 2.0 represents “the end of privacy”.

Will Harris recently wrote about his views on the end of privacy. He blames the Web 2.0 phenomenon and all the data users are willingly posting and publishing on the network. Well, mostly he blames big business.

“My firm belief is that the net effect of the Web 2.0 movement will be a marked loss of privacy on the internet, one which leads to big business knowing more about you than it ever did before.”

He then moves quickly into talking about how these conglomerates will eventually own all the marketing data it can buy and proceed to advertise, advertise, advertise.

When the Web 2.0 bubble bursts – when the massive buyouts are done, the millionaires are made and the sites we love today are in the hands of big business – the innovation will grind to a halt, and what’s left will be the endless grinding of the marketeering machine.

If anything, I think this is the blunt end of the stick.

The other end is much more dangerous as, once this data is aggregated and compiled, it can be singularly lost or sold to more unscrupulous characters. Big business being what it is – is not the boogeyman here. I am concerned, same as Will, about large corporations feeling they can advertise personally to me whenever and wherever they want – but I’m much more concerned about their potentially cavalier tossing around of all this personally aggregated data without scrubbing it for merely statistical purposes.

Ideally, we move to an identity metasystem (with identity providers and identity brokers) and these companies only know what we let them know about us. Arguably, we can do that today without more software or more technical tools to trickle into mass adoption, simply by not playing – not participating – but that kind of defeats the point of having the conversation, doesn’t it? We need tools to protect us AND that let us do what we want to do online – buy, sell, communicate.

Eventually, online life and offline life will be a blurry distinction that nobody bothers to make. It will just be life.

I do like Will's piece.  Everyone should check it out, even though he has completely missed the central point.  

I speak, as usual, in the architectural conditional.

Will get's what's happening, but not what will start happening when Web 2.0 gets serious about long-term business strategy.  One day people will get to, er, the “things that will destroy our business model” phase. 

Luckily, the fix isn't so hard, if people tune in now.  More when the rest of me has arrived back from Europe.


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Kim Cameron

Work on identity.