Saturday, June 30, 2007

Friedman on the "transparent society" (without mention of Brin)

Friedman, a celebrity whose reputation has cruelly fallen, writes about the implications of global reputations ... 

The Whole World Is Watching - Friedman -New York Times

... 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.”..

Alas, Friedman is not much of a reader or a researcher, otherwise he'd know of David Brin's 1999 book, The Transparent Society. Friedman, presumably recycling Seidman, predicts youngsters of today will have to carefully manage their public actions from now through adulthood, avoiding any smirch on their record that would impair their future promotion path. So predictable. He doesn't even manage to mention that the vast majority of human history has been lived in small communities where reputations were as robust as memory.

If Friedman were to open his mind a wee bit, he'd take in a bit of science fiction. Reputation management has been a recurring theme of the genre for at least 20 years. There are many alternate paths, including identity obscuration (create false paths to confuse the story, an application of fraud techniques to blur recollection), identity fraud, and tools and methodologies to support the creation of multiple transient identities. In some paths one's "True Name" is guarded as closely as in LeGuin's fantasy novels, while alternate identities are juggled throughout life. Or, most likely of all, we'll only have to worry about any of this stuff for the short period of time in which our everyday environment is even marginally comprehensible to our feeble primate brains.

Incidentally, the relationship between John Gordon and me will become one degree more obscure sometime in the next few weeks....

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