The myth of personal empowerment takes root amidst a massive loss of personal control.
Social technologies are cloaked in a rhetoric of liberation (customers are in control, the internet fosters democracy, social technologies propagate truth etc.) that tend to obscure the fact that never before have we handed so much personal information over in exchange for so little in return.
As we move from the “web of information” to the “web of people” (aka the Social Web) the output of all of this social participation is massive dossiers on individual behavior (your social network profiles, photos, location, status updates, searches etc.) and social activity.
This loss of control over personal information is on a collision course with the law of unintended consequences: MIT’s Project Gaydar can spot your sexual preference by your social ties, Facebook checks are occurring customs and every quiz you take on Facebook delivers a shocking amount of personally identifiable information to third parties.
Amidst this barrage of good news for how much power we wield in the transaction of commerce one has to wonder if we are giving away something quite precious in the bargain.
Here are links to the previous posts in this series:
One: More access to information doesn’t bring people together, often it isolates us.
Two: Individual perception of increased choice can occur while the overall choice pool is getting smaller
What are other paradoxes of the Internet Age? What did I get wrong above?