An open letter to online privacy advocates and politicians who want to take charge of the open internet.

Dear Privacy Advocate,

I Live in Public, Online. You can find my life, for the past few years at least, sprawled across the internet – mainly thanks to the advent of Social Media. I’ll list just a few of the accounts later.

My reason for this open letter is to explain why I believe living in public is not something to fear, but rather to be embraced. I do not fear people knowing I may or may not have health issues, I do not fear that due to tracking I can see highly personalised news feed and search results, I do not fear living in public.

One of the people I admire is Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis), he lives his life on the internet and is like me an avid promoter of doing just that. He agrees with me, living life in public is nothing to be scared of. Indeed when he found out he had prostate cancer his reflex was to talk about it online, it meant he could find out lots of great information and through the world audience learn about what could happen, how to deal with things and most of all he received support. You can read his first post about prostate cancer here, do take not of all the comments and support he received. The reason for admiration is both what he does in life, but also his publicness (yes it is a word, not it probably isn’t in a dictionary). In his book public parts, Jeff share a hell of a lot of information and detail about his life and living in public and why it is nothing to fear. This letter was in part spawned by the book and in part by needing to air why I am happy to be so open and honest online, the book turned this from a thought-train to a letter (thank you Jeff ).

Jeff’s story is not uncommon. There are many cases where individuals or groups have placed their private parts on the internet, in a blog, in a video or maybe just on social networks. The reason is simple: humans crave interaction. Interaction with one another, as friends and also as we see on twitter and facebook with those we befriend, even though we may not know them like we know our family or those we’ve known for a long time. There is a theory which says you can only ever really have 150 relationships properly at one time, but I believe this is an old theory which in todays modern world is wrong. For instance on facebook I’ve nearly 1300 friends, facebook.com/search.andy, I know a hell of a lot of them in real life (more than 150!) but I also know a lot of those friends online, they help support my website design and graphic design business, they help when I feel down, they celebrate whenever possible and they interact with me and my posts (just as I do them). Taking this example further, if humans did not crave to be listened to and interacted with Twitter would not be the huge success it is today. Facebook connects friends and family, simple. Twitter connects a user with the world, they take an interest in your doings by following you and as you do with them also – you share your thoughts, wants, dreams and more! @andykinsey (me) has almost 2500 followers at this time, I follow over 2700 of interest, I make lists (organised for once) of specific people and types of people I may want to hear from, there are local lists, news lists, technology lists and more. If i just want to see the world at large I just view the timeline, hundreds of messages a minute passing by as users interact with each other. It’s funny how they probably don’t notice they are talking to the world, and those privacy junkies who want lock themselves off and close their feeds to public consumption. This is their prerogative, each to their own, but I want to live my life in public – I have no fear of being in public.

But why do I want to live in public?

I want to live in public, not because like everyone else I crave interaction, but rather because I have nothing to hide and everything to gain. Sure privacy is great and deserves protecting, I don’t talk about my family or anything I think may attach to others and harm them, I keep that private. It is our right to live in public or in private, they are not exclusive you can do both, as I’ve just attested too. The internet allows the public to speak, be heard, act, connect, collaborate and live in a more open society. And it is this final part I believe in living in public.

An Open Society is not about everyone knowing what your DNA structure maybe, it’s not about what you say alone, it is about the collective public connecting and collaborating to make the world a better place. Remember a few months ago in Egypt? A revolution for democracy made possible by the internet and social networks. When an injustice is done in the world, someone is imprisoned for the wrong reasons etc, the internet can be a tool for the masses of good public to be heard and listened to. Open Society does not end here though. It applies to everything! One of my favourite examples is with Pharmaceutical Companies, imagine if they shared all the pre-trial data with each other, imagine if they found a drug which failed tests and this data was shared, nothing commercially sensitive here but if they shared it and collaborated medicines would be better and they would improve faster. It is like lots of universities now foster the idea of collaboration, working with other universities and charities to find out new things and make things better. This is why I am living life in public, in the hope that with an Open Society the world will be a better place. I believe in privacy as much as living life in public, they as i’ve said are not exclusive they can work together.

So my privacy advocate friends, don’t you think it’s time for a rethink of your position to support an Open and Collaborative Society.

If you agree with me I would appreciate you leaving a comment and more so sharing this post in which ever way you see fit, just as I would if you disagree I am open to discussing my views too.

- Andy

> @andykinsey
> facebook.com/search.andy & facebook.com/AK.Designs
> +Andy Kinsey
> Also find me on flickr, linked in and many many other networks.

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Andy Kinsey

Head of Digital Marketing at RedStar Creative
Andy Kinsey is the founder and primary blogger of SEO Andy - the Internet Marketing Resource for Small Business Owners. You can learn more about Andy here. Andy is the Head of Digital Marketing in Manchester for RedStar Creative.