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March 27, 2007 » 1:37 am

More on the Price of Openness

I’m a very private person. On the surface, that may be hard to believe, coming from someone who blogs regularly, who has a public Flickr stream, and who interacts regularly with tons of people, most of whom I like. But it’s not news to anyone who knows me. When it comes to my work, I’m very transparent. Again, this blog is a testament to that. When it comes to me personally and the people I care about, I can be as tight as a clam.    (M1Y)

Over the years, I’ve gotten better at walking the boundary, maintaining my privacy without completely walling myself off from others. I’ve lowered the outer walls a bit, and my life is much richer for it. But the walls are still there. It’s my own personal Intimacy Gradient. Frankly, those boundaries are what allow me to live a somewhat public life and stay sane. It’s reminiscent of Wonko The Sane in Douglas Adams‘s So Long, and Thanks for All The Fish. The world really can be an asylum, and it’s important to have a sanctuary from that.    (M1Z)

I don’t self-identify as a blogger. When bloggers express outrage about something, I don’t say to myself, “Ah yes, those are my people.” I have many friends and colleagues who blog, several prominently, but I don’t think of them as bloggers either. I think of them as people I respect and care about. Sometimes, these friends become the center of online idiocy, and in those times, I try to remind them to remember the people and the things that are really important to them. What happens outside of that circle doesn’t matter as much, and it helps to be reminded of that.    (M20)

I don’t know Kathy Sierra personally, but I feel bad about what happened to her, and I wish her the best. It won’t be the last time that something ridiculous like this happens, and next time, it very well may happen to someone I do know, maybe even me. Incidents like these really force you to stop and think.    (M21)

In response to this fiasco, Ross Mayfield made a profound observation:    (M22)

Being open on the web matters. Transparency is good. Society values it more every day and it is the underlying force field of the blogosphere. But it is rare to hear horror stories of being too closed, and frequent for being open. Maybe being too closed makes you unheard to begin with. Maybe it means isolation which is our greatest fear. Maybe it also means corruption when conspired.    (M23)

Last year, I wrote of a far less serious case where people were paying the price of openness. And I concluded that the cost was always worth it in the end, because authenticity will always win. It means a very different thing in this context, but it still applies.    (M24)

Still, openness does not mean without boundaries. When we think of collaboration and collaborative spaces, we must not forget the importance of Intimacy Gradients. This is a good personal lesson as well.    (M25)

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