Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Social Software Implications - living your life online

At the outset of the social software movement, the discomforting mix of two aspects of our lives - personal and professional seemed a distant problem. In general, I've never minded the mix - I gravitate to the transparency that Web2.0 seeks and in many ways forces. But then there are aspects of people's lives that relate to external forces (or should I say people?) - forces that a Web2.0 participant would have no control over.

Imagine the scenarios that will start to play out when everyone lives part of their lives online. The woman who writes about the very personal experience of being victimized somehow - because she wants to share her story of healing, for example. But then the victimizer finds her online, defaces her blog, tries to get into her MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, or other network. She could go underground (in this case, offline). But if her professional life requires some online visibility, then what? Does she give up her professional profile to preserve the sanctity of her personal life.

The story of the high-profile blogger who wrote at "Creating Passionate Users" is a case in point, though in her case, the victimization started online, then crossed a threshold when the victimizer threatened her physical well-being. She had to give up that excellent blog for her own safety, to forego a professional conference, to essentially lose the head of steam she'd built up in the blogosphere.

When we all believe in the essential goodness, the ultimate triumph of decency over darkness, we can hold onto the vision of Web2.0, but sometimes reality gets in the way - people are their own worst enemies - and they will as quickly seek to destroy as to build. And all it takes is one extremely destructive person or incident to set Web2.0 - or Library2.0 - back. We should all take some time to consider - not to lay aside our enthusiasm - but to start a sort of risk analysis of the Web2.0/Library2.0 movement. The theory here would be that anticipating the problems that may arise can help us to deal with them when they do.

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