I am a little bit incoherent with rage today. I'm also a big hypocrite.
I'm angry because I read quite a good article by Aditya Chakrabortty about internet privacy. I suggest you don't read articles about internet privacy, by the way. It's a very bad idea.
And I'm a hypocrite because, in spite of this bit of the article. . .
Asked last December about whether users should be concerned about sharing so much information with Google, CEO Eric Schmidt replied: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."
. . . I still use Blogger and Gmail.
I'm a pretty transparent blogger. I blog under my full name. My profile picture is a photograph of myself. I am pretty sure that I'd be easy enough to track down, if someone wanted to track down a 26-year-old wannabe novelist with psoriasis and a tendancy to write very long sentences (I'm right here, people, take a number. . .). The names of the suburbs where I live and work are probably available on here somewhere, or if not, in a comment thread on someone else's blog.
All of that was a decision. I could have blogged as PinkTeaGirl26 living in Indeterminate Canalside Suburb and working in Indeterminate Coastal Suburb, getting there and back via Unspecified Form of Public Transport (I take the bus). I decided not to. I started my blog to meet other writers and participate in the very active and fun publishing blogosphere (yes, Ms. Nelson, I owe it all to you!) and I wanted to do that under my own name. This isn't a small decision - I have a friend who has intended to start a blog for a while now, and is still considering how much information to make available.
It's a decision, though, and as the author of that article says, that is content I choose to release. It isn't data that becomes available through monitoring my activities, and I'm not crazy about how much information companies may hold on me because I chose to use their search engines (not singling Google out here, I use several search engines).
Even knowing how much information search engines hold on me doesn't bother me as much as Mr. Schmidt's comment. There are lots of things I do that aren't wrong, that I would prefer remained private. For obvious reasons, I'm not going to list all of them, but the best example is the simplest: gentle readers, sometimes I use the bathroom. I'm also a hypochondriac, so I have been known to conduct long and detailed research into diseases I couldn't possibly have - I would be quite happy if no one had access to that list (mostly because there is a danger they might laugh themselves into a coma). 'Unwilling to do it in public' does NOT equal 'should not be doing it at all'.
Anyway, have a nice calming article about waves to make up for all that, also courtesy of today's Guardian.