I think we’re rapidly approaching a point in time where people will pay for privacy. I know that after a super-hot month of August with the house full of kids chain-watching Ratatouille, I would pay someone for some privacy.
The privacy controls that governments are attempting to impose on social media and the technical safeguards that social networks like Facebook are implementing seem to be band-aids on a larger and much more significant two-part problem
- How to enable individuals to control the information they disclose?
- How to enable individuals to put their value in front of their social graph?
I believe that the brunt of the public debate has been on question number 1 – primarily because of the sheer size and entertainment/leisure time/socializing/shmoozing/networking elements of Facebook and LinkedIn and other social media web sites. As Bruce Schneier has noted in some of his recent essays – privacy on the Net is not necessarily about forbidding disclosure (like the regulators are trying to do with PII and PHI compliance regulation) but about controlling what you share.
But entertainment, leisure time, socializing and networking are not everything in life – and as a matter of fact – most people go to work and either create, make, sell or buy for a living. Question number 2 is about increasing your disclosure in a controlled way and putting your value forward to your customers and not behind the company that you represent. Value backwards (as opposed to value forwards) is the way most information technology and big pharma is sold today – you work for a security integrator and you’re reselling someone else’s product extolling the virtues of Websense DLP (like 10 other resellers in your geography) or you’re a medical sales representative for MSD and you’re extolling the advantages of Remicade for treating Crohn’s disease.
But – we all know that the reason the customer is talking to you is because he values you (or thinks you might have something of value to sell).
Last year we did a private, professional networking project for one of the big 3 innovative pharmas at one of their Central European offices. It was a successful clinical trial of what we thought was a good idea – enabling medical sales representatives to place their value in front of their social graph of doctors. As we approach release of the beta version of a productized version – it seems time to get some feedback on the notion of private, controlled networking. So here it is – feel free to comment online or email me.