Zero Privacy, The Day After

Two tech girls walk into a bar . . .

Dining on The Riverwalk in San Antonio
“Zero Privacy” on The Riverwalk In San Antonio. Photo/nick noecker 04/14

They order craft beers, retire to a table with a colleague, and talk shop. An eavesdropper walks by and instagrams them to a popular tech-blog. At sunrise one of them is fired. Why? (Hint: It wasn’t for drinking on the job)

It turns out the posted photo included an attribution of “hurtful speech.” Social whacking is being used now by some as a tactic in the battle for hearts and minds. In their view, social-tech is a tool for enforcing values.

Against that backdrop, business executives are beginning to view social-tech in a different way—as a notification infrastructure for exposing hidden value in business processes. Processes where privacy must be carefully considered and balanced with business opportunity. Processes like meter tweets, customer service tweets, or knowledge-sharing through commenting.

Social Web site businesses like Facebook depend on private information being shared on a voluntary basis for 100% of their content. But without privacy, people have nothing to share. Social business models fail without content. Ironically, the value of “social” whether a Web site or business process is totally dependent on the preservation of privacy.

So far, incidents like the tech girls have been met with silence by the very firms who have the most interest in preserving privacy. The logical response to all this is inescapable: When sharing becomes too risky, People Will Stop Sharing. And that will be the end of social as a value proposition.

If we want to preserve this new engine of opportunity and our humanity, we should preserve a right to privacy and reduce the risk of sharing. But the question arises…

Where does humanity’s interest end and business process’ begin? We may find there’s no simple answer.

Quiet Spot On The Riverwalk
“The Day After” somewhere on The Riverwalk. Photo/nick noecker 04/14


“Zero Privacy” refers to Scott McNealy’s infamous 1999 ridiculing of privacy concerns on the Web, proclaiming “There is zero privacy, get over it”

Scott McNealy was the co-founder of Sun Microsystems

In 1999, almost the entire internet ran on Sun servers

Scott McNealy had never heard of social media in 1999 so he couldn’t imagine how much the Web would come to depend on privacy

No one in social media today even knows what Scott McNealy said back in ’99

The tech girls incident actually happened at the PyCon 2013 conference…with changes to protect privacy

A “social technology infrastructure” is a notification architecture for the firm where processes have micro-blogging technology embedded that “tweet” status autonomously to corporate subscriber robots and real people…in real time

Done right, social technology is the most transformational technology for business…ever…whether social Web sites survive or not

Today, Sun Microsystems is gone and Scott McNealy is the founder of a social media startup dedicated to ferreting-out valuable intelligence from the infinite quantity of privacy on the Web that he said did not exist


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