Nicely collared Trish G. posts today in Snarkaholic (the blog formerly known as Spap-Oop!) about a recent column in the NY Times which I happened to read Monday at my friend Jon Ramer's house over his shoulder while he used the NY Times Select service which she also mentions. The article talks about how the entertainment industry is reading blogs to find out what people think about their product.
Trish G. fears the open world's propensity for exploitation. Why? Because exploitation is annoying.
However, Trish G. also has a racier blog where she "walks naked .. down the information superhighway".
And here is the connundrum. We want to be open, but we don't want to be used. We want to trust that people will learn from us, discuss with us, but not punish us for being human.
She's right to extend this into the Linklove debate. This is the sticky side of on line communities and linklove ultimately aims at creating a decentralized, asynchronous on-line community ... or a set of spontaneous communities. For example, other than someone that Mary Hodder has linked to, Trish G. didn't know who I was until I showed up in her Technorati list. (Hello Trish)
Now, however, our conversation - for good or ill - is not only broadcast, but crawled, archived, and decoded. This is the balancing act we play for the 100% transparency of the Internet. While David Brin dealt mostly with government transparency in his book The Transparent Society, his main point was, transparency must be reciprocal in order to work.
This means that advertisers are going to be watching you.
Is that kinda crummy? Yeah. But in the end what does it matter? In the end, advertisers know I'm interested in network theory. Does that mean that in two years there will be a sitcom about social software?
One thing the NY Times article didn't mention is that entertainment companies have been watching blogs and net communities for years. To such a point that they have planted people in communities to talk up new product and started blogs to do the same.
They are very bad at it.
They're just as obvious as porn bots. In the end, they are filtered, ejected, or otherwise removed from the viewership. People don't read blogs that are advertising and they don't respect paid opinions (except for broadcast news, I suppose).
In the end, the net is open, it's crawlable, it's freedom and it's vulnerable. When we expose ourselves we will be seen - and the more public the exposition, the less control we have over the viewers.
Jon, mentioned above, incidentally is part of the Interra Project and his reaction to the article was how community leaders and community based organizations could use similar activities (reading what people are saying) to build stronger local structures. So he saw the activity but went in an entirely different direction with it.