Although my frequent use of the Internet started at a late age compared to my friends and peers, I nevertheless started at the age of 15 or 16. I was 7 years too young for a credit card, not to mention that working was just about the furthest thing from my mind then. Consequently, I’ve never been all that cautious about revealing my personal information on the Net, since there was no financially-related information to be stolen. The boundaries between personal information that can be revealed and personal information that must remain private fleshed itself out as I felt my way around the Net and gradually got used to the culture and environment.
I actually started my blog as a fad. I saw the success that my friend’s blog enjoyed from my class and his circle of friends, and since I prided myself on being able to write well (enough), I figured I’d just start one as well.
Blogger, like any decent interactive site, has a profile page for users to fill up, should they choose to, so that visitors can read more about the author, or more importantly, find a way to contact him, email address or otherwise. Anywhere I go, and anywhere I reveal personal information, I am not worried about physical privacy. I know I haven’t been hacking into CIA, so I cannot imagine anyone out of Singapore trying to find me. And interaction on my blog has led me to believe that hardly anyone outside of my circle of friends reads my blog anyway, more so because I know my content is specific to my current life. In 2004, I blogged about what went on in Victoria School, and in my class 4H. Since last year, most of my posts have something to do with UB-SIM. As such, I feel comfortable revealing more than my usual amount of personal information, since anyone who reads it are likely to already know those details anyway. For example in my Blogger profile page I reveal myself to be staying in Tampines, Singapore. Most of my friends know that, if not all. Anyone new to my blog who even bothers to read the profile page can contact me if they are interested to find out where I live, and I can then assess their intent in finding out my exact address.
Jeffrey Rosen, author of The Naked Crowd, writes that we are in an age where many are watching many, “even though no one knows precisely who is watching or being watched at any given time” (2004). As I begin to blog about a wider scope of subjects, I am gradually increasing my caution on revealing personal information, in anticipation of (hopefully) higher traffic to my blog and an increased range of audiences. Bob Sullivan’s comment that “a simple Google search can reveal what you think” (2006) rings a painful bell as I recall the flame war I recently engaged in as part of my flamers study. I carelessly neglected to create a pseudonym for myself and risked my own privacy. This was revealed to me when the flamer tried to one-up me by posting 10 links to my identity on the Net. It was true that half of those links were dead, remnants of my presence on Web 1.0, and that none were sensitive information that I particularly cared for, but still, I was severely reminded of the possible danger I had put myself in.
As I commented in my Bonus Mission post, we the users of the Web cannot afford to be careless about what we say, or in this case, reveal anymore. Everyone is watching everyone else’s move, and as Professor Alex Halavais commented in the article elaborating on the word he coined, panveillance, “there is the assumption that some form of the video is likely to find its way out onto the web” (2007). We should adopt that assumption with anything we put up on the Net in any medium, and think twice before we reveal anything on the, let’s face it, vicious Internet.
Rosen, J. (2004, July 19). The Naked Crowd. Retrieved March 10, 2007 from http://www.spiked-online.com/Printable/0000000CA5FF.htm
Sullivan, B. (2006, October 17). Privacy Lost: Does anybody care?. Retrieved March 10, 2007 from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15221095/print/1/displaymode/1098/
Halavais, A. (2007, March 1). Panveillance. Retrieved March 10, 2007 from http://alex.halavais.net/panveillance/