An IdeasProject Question: Drawing the Line Between Public and Private

May 24, 2010 in News & Events | Comments (2)


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It’s an ongoing debate. Privacy on-line. Just how much is too much and where do you draw the line? The ebb and flow of this topic surged in recent weeks in large part due to the renewed kerfuffle over Facebook’s apparent disregard for their users’ privacy.

There’s no question that some of Facebook’s cavalier policies around disseminating users’ information without their permission is changing the face of privacy as well as the nature of what it means to have public and private information. That said, we are unquestionably skidding towards a time with people having more prominent presence in the digital sphere. To think that one could just eschew all on-line platforms and actually still function in today’s modern world … well … that’s something just short of ridiculous. In fact, the burgeoning world of on-line platforms and social technologies, when used properly, is a powerful and amazing tool for connecting to others and most importantly as a means to share who you are, what you think and in doing so connect deeply and authentically with an amazing number of people.

The cautionary note, however, must be sounded … and that is inserting a need for mindfulness in how people actually engage on-line. There is no one holding a gun to your head making you put information on line, and yet avoiding a digital presence is impossible and making sure you are clear about the image you portray and the personal narrative you tell – which also includes attention to having a cohesive, consistent narrative across all platforms – is critical.

This leads to the central reason for this post – seeking some perspective from you, my dear reader, about this increasingly blurred yet increasingly critical line between our public and private selves.

This week I’m participating with Nokia’s IdeasProject in their Question of the Week. This weekly series is designed to catalyze conversation around topics and themes impacting our world through and because of technology. Next Sunday I’ll be reviewing all the responses to my question, pick the best response and the winner will get a Nokia phone.

Here’s my question:

With the line between public and private information blurring what are the top criteria you use to mark the boundary in your own online world?

To answer, use this link to go directly to the question. You’ll need to do a simple registration and can post your response. During the week, I’ll tweet out some of my favorite responses and may add them here too. If you want to keep track on Twitter, you can follow @ideasproject.

Disclosure: In exchange for participating in the Question of the Week, I will be receiving a Nokia Netbook. Presently it is my intention to give it away … but as my current netbook is on its last legs, I may end up keeping it, in which case any use of it or mention of it will be clearly noted.

DISCLOSURE UPDATE – as someone has called into question my professional integrity on this issue I will clarify that in the past I have done consulting work for Nokia. That contract is over and ended well before my inclusion in this project. It is possible that I may consult to them again in the future, but there is no standing contract nor is there any current work or anything planned work in the immediate future.


2 responses to “An IdeasProject Question: Drawing the Line Between Public and Private”

  1. Ideas says:

    Are you a consultant for Nokia?

  2. Cathy says:

    Hi Noah … or whomever else at Fast Company he may have enlisted in today’s personal attack. Note the updated disclosure at the bottom of this post. As the contract work was well completed before they invited me to be part of this program and this project is operated by an entirely different group at Nokia with no connection whatsoever to the other work or department with which I had worked I did not mention it.