Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Digital Reputation

Thomas Friedman did an interesting piece (Behind the pay firewall)about one of the pluses and minuses of the information age.

When everyone has a blog, a MySpace page or Facebook entry, everyone is a publisher. When everyone has a cellphone with a camera in it, everyone is a paparazzo. When everyone can upload video on YouTube, everyone is filmmaker. When everyone is a publisher, paparazzo or filmmaker, everyone else is a public figure. We’re all public figures now. The blogosphere has made the global discussion so much richer — and each of us so much more transparent.

The implications of all this are the subject of a new book by Dov Seidman, founder and C.E.O. of LRN, a business ethics company. His book is simply called “How.” Because Seidman’s simple thesis is that in this transparent world “how” you live your life and “how” you conduct your business matters more than ever, because so many people can now see into what you do and tell so many other people about it on their own without any editor. To win now, he argues, you have to turn these new conditions to your advantage.

For young people, writes Seidman, this means understanding that your reputation in life is going to get set in stone so much earlier. More and more of what you say or do or write will end up as a digital fingerprint that never gets erased. Our generation got to screw up and none of those screw-ups appeared on our first job résumés, which we got to write. For this generation, much of what they say, do or write will be preserved online forever. Before employers even read their résumés, they’ll Google them. more

I'm sort of fortunate in that I chose the handle (as it used to be called) Dyre42 sixteen years ago and then transferred it over to the internet once it became more widely available (and affordable) in that there really isn't much linked to my real name.

But my children will grow up with much of their lives being documented on the interwebs. In order to maintain some type of firewall between the real and virtual worlds they'll have to actually think ahead about what they want people to be able to find out about them online. And frankly that wasn't in the parenting manual that comes attached to the baby when its born.