‘Default to public’, and its implications

Interesting Guardian column by Jeff Jarvis.

According to the marketing firm Alloy, 96% of teens and tweens use social networks; they are now universal. And I think this means that they will maintain friendships longer in life. Which, in turn, could lead to richer friendships. No longer can you escape relationships when you move on; you will be tied to your past – and to the consequences of your actions. I hope this could make us better friends.

But because you can’t escape your past, this also means that you could do one stupid thing in life, forever memorialised in Google, and you are embarrassed in perpetuity.

The Google chief executive, Eric Schmidt, jokes that we all should be able to change our names and start fresh at age 21. But I think we’ll be protected by mutually assured humiliation: we will all have our moments of youthful indiscretion and so we will have to forgive others’ if we want them to ignore ours. So you inhaled – so did I, what of it? That will be the golden rule of the social internet. And I say that could make us more tolerant.

There are other benefits to living life in public and, as a result, collaboratively. When the photo site Flickr began, its co-founder Caterina Fake said it made the fateful and fortunate decision to “default to public”.