The Paris Hilton Rule (or “In response to blogging privacy concerns”)

paris hiltonAt SXSW.COM this year Danah Boyd, Anil Dash and Justin Hall, two ofwhom I really respect, discussed the future of blogging. The big issue they came to was the issue “who’s reading my blog.”

Blog privacy is a concern for many, especially kids who write about their parents, teachers and peers in honest, or at least raw, detail. Blog privacy is an issue for adults who have to consider what their employer, spouse, family and kids (future or present) will think of what they write on their blog.

However, these concerns are just plain silly. If you write something on your blog (or in email, or in print, or on instant messenger, etc.), be prepared for everyone in the world to see it. If you can’t live with everyone hearing what you say, then don’t say it especially not on the web!

This is, simply put, the “Paris Hilton Rule.” If you have sex with someone on video do so only if you are prepared to live with the consequences of everyone seeing it (which she clearly was).

Now, my good friend Justin understands being the O.B. (original blogger) he is. He has been writing raw, unfiltered stuff for years. Over the years the ramification of his words being read by everyone has taught him how to filter, and he is not as raw about other people nowas he used to be. He is, of course, as raw as ever when it comes to himself. An older, wiser Justin Hall if you will.

Now, Danah discussed our negotiating the relationships we have with the world through blogs and I think there is a point there. Kids put up stuff they ostensibly don’t want people to see specifically so people will see. In fact, many times people who are not supposed to see it in fact do and say nothing, making blogs a sort of public therapy session.

Anil, who worked at the Village Voice before joining a blog software company,is thinking about having rules about who can read which blog post. This will not work, by and large, for two reasons. First, bloggers will not take the time to fill out all the checkboxes and forms it takes to define sharing rules. Second, as we know from the Paris Hilton Rule anyone in that private group with access to the information can, and probably will, forward the private information (in this case blogs posts) to the people who are not supposed to see them.

So, event planners, pleaseremove this whole self-indulgent, ego-driven discussion of who’s reading your blog from future events. You can always replace it with something more important like how to get to the top of the rankings.

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