Leaving Tracks on the World

I'm a dinosaur. The 'net was made for sharing, and people do, especially those younger than me. So I'm gradually forcing myself to become comfortable with being visible online.

For further thought about this concept, here's a fantastically controversial point of view: Clay Shirky's synopsis of his latest book

Go ahead, read it. I'll wait.


He takes a while to get to the point with relevance to this post, but eventually, he says it: "media includes consuming, producing and sharing". Meaning that to participate, we'll all need online versions of ourselves. I now have all kinds of accounts on all kinds of online services. Some are useful, others not so much. But I'm slowly coming around to wanting all that info to line up with everything else, to have a type of online integrity. Because of my early desire for secrecy, I released my blog under the name "Jubal Herring". Now I want it to be "Brad Brizendine", and it's actually pretty hard to change all the parts of the Internet that have me tagged as Jubal. And that damages the consistent view I want to portray to the world.

So, long winded way of saying "I have no idea, I'm just feeling my way along here, but it seems like sharing media with the world is where it's headed".

The question I'm still working to resolve for myself is about sharing responsibly. Regarding that, and especially the safety angle, here's another little piece of food for thought: Why I let my 9-year-old ride the subway alone.

Go ahead, read it. I'll wait.


So what does that mean? Yes, releasing pictures of my family on the public Internet increases our visibility. Yes, even if there's no actual address visible in the photos or descriptions, it's possible that someone with ill intent might see them and figure out where we are. But this is where letting your 9-year-old ride the subway alone comes in. She asked herself how likely it would be that her son would ask some stranger for directions and the stranger would spontaneously change plans from getting home to kidnapping and killing her son. And I think it's conceptually the same for sharing family media on the Internet.

Having said that, I really don't think it's a good idea to share identifiable information such as addresses or phone numbers. And I'm not planning on ever releasing photos containing people other than my own family without permission. But I'm seriously considering making our family media public.

As a final point, consider world population. Given the unbelievable avalanche of personal media already happening, the possibility of bad people finding my personal media and harming my children is becoming more remote every day. Besides the harm issue, the likeliest outcome is that my family's media will be doomed to pure obscurity. Strangely enough, making them public is probably the best way to hide them forever.