I have a long, thoughtful post that’s still mostly in my head about online presence and privacy, and someday I’ll get it all down in print (or pixels, or what have you)–probably about the same time I catch up on reading Cites & Insights (Walt, it’s not even 2006 yet! Slow down! :-)). In the meantime, though, I offer these prefatory remarks.
I just added some old pictures to Flickr. The quality is not that great–many of them were originally Polaroids, and then I scanned them–but they have a certain sentimental value, and it’s kind of neat to be able to see them out on the web. When I was uploading them, though, it occurred to me that being around and available online is not for everyone. Not everyone wants to put themselves out there, and I feel some responsibility for not forcing them on to a stage they didn’t want to be on.
It’s true that almost no one can avoid being online somewhere–if not through Google, then through ZabaSearch or one of the other online white pages. But there’s a difference between that and having snapshots of yourself with bad hair out in the world. Maybe that will change–but for some of my friends and family, it hasn’t changed yet.
So while I have no problem letting you see one of my poor ’80s fashion choices or letting you know who I voted for in 2000, or explaining how I got arrested, or even telling you about the time they couldn’t find my cervix, I know that’s not for everyone.
All this, really, is by way of explaining why, if you’re one of my Flickr contacts, you’ve been upgraded from “contact” to “friend.” Everyone can see pictures of me; I’ve made the ones with other people in them friend only, which lets my online community see them but keeps them at least a little bit private. If you’re not listed as a friend or contact, it’s not because I don’t like you; it’s just because I haven’t gotten around to it (or I don’t know who you are). But feel free to add me, and I’ll reciprocate–and then you too can see poor-quality photos of my friends and family in front of my tree. Oh, the excitement!