Showing too much skin is never attractive.

A quick thought relating to an interesting discussion thread on one of the data policy affinity groups.

The debate began as one of ethics & I pose that question to you out there in the web wilderness:

Is it \*ethical\* to include a search of a potential student/ politician/ employee social networking activities & to include the results of that search in a decision making matrix?

What if the individual never intended the information to be public but shared it intentionally anyway?

What if the data is about legal activities clearly outside of the realm of the academic/ public duties/ employment context?

The answers to these questions are emerging & deserve a longer discussion than I'm in the mood for at the minute, but I thought I would share this interesting perspective from one of the group members (& I quote the idea, not the exact quote):

"The content and context of the disclosure almost don't matter. What matters to me is that this person has made a judgment call that this kind and sensitivity of disclosure is okay. That it is okay for that individual in a personal capacity still makes me question their judgment. This is not someone I would hire if I had other options."

Bottom line, over disclosure may imply bad judgment whether that assumption is true or false.

Trouble is, of course, that your definition of over exposure may be wildly, generationally or culturally different from mine.

To finish this light thought for tonight, I have a silly story exposing a bit of my past life working at a patent litigation firm.

There were almost no women at our firm and thus was I selected to be the lucky person to inform one of the staff that her clothes were a bit (okay outrageously) too revealing. (None of the guys were asked to have this little chat & may, in truth, have been hoping that my little heart to heart with this gal would be unsuccessful.) Since I billed out by the hour & was judged thereby I decided to cut to the chase & just put it to her like this:

"Here's the deal. You have a lovely figure and we have all seen enough of it to be in full agreement on this point. You have seen the written dress code. (We \*had\* one which was a bit weird considering that we were all well out of grammar school.) Here's the bottom line-- so to speak. When you are getting dressed to come to work, if you can't fit underwear \*under\* your clothing, the clothing is too small. If we can see any part that should be covered by said underwear, your bad judgment \*and\* your booty will be hanging out."

Now, \*I\* thought these guidelines were relatively straightforward, but I think she just went out & bought smaller undies. Go figure. Social networking policies, like corporate dress codes, may be the subject of interpretation for some time to come!

A light thought...

Comments:

Hi, Michelle. Happy New Year!

Sorry, but you lost me on this.

If both content and context are ignored, what is left but conjecture?

Posted by Carolyn on January 22, 2008 at 04:56 PM PST #

[Trackback] Bookmarked your post over at Blog Bookmarker.com!

Posted by unsuccessful on January 22, 2008 at 11:04 PM PST #

I think the key factor lies in this sentence: "What if the individual never intended the information to be public but shared it intentionally anyway?"

In other words, it's all very well to accuse the data subject of poor judgement, \*provided\* you're absolutely certain that the judgement in question was well-informed and accurately executed - particularly by any party to whom the data subject made a disclosure.

I actually think that, in that respect, context is too important to brush aside. It's absolutely clear that many disclosures happen (intentionally and on the basis of a judgement by the data subject) in a context where it's not clear what the consequences will be.

Back in 2004, how many people installed Google Desktop Search because it was useful, failing to appreciate that in doing so, they were agreeing to send Google an index of everything on their machine, plus any subsequent searches? Without that contextual information, I don't think you can sensibly decide whether their disclosure is to be respected or condemned...

Posted by Robin Wilton on January 31, 2008 at 07:12 PM PST #

So, Michelle and Robin:

Re:
“Back in 2004, how many people installed Google Desktop Search because it was useful, failing to appreciate that in doing so, they were agreeing to send Google an index of everything on their machine, plus any subsequent searches?”

I have never installed Google Desktop Search (or any other search) on my desktop. The desktop search I have is what came with my ubiquitous OS ;-) I also have Google search (via the internet) through my ISP, but not by my choice, but by their choice.

Does that make me “safe” from sending Google an index of everything on my machine, like photos I didn’t post to a public site?

Posted by Carolyn on February 05, 2008 at 04:20 PM PST #

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