Power to the person

David Weinberger is having second thoughts about agreeing with my first thoughts about Facebook’s recent decisions about minimally exposing member profiles to search engines (or whatever it is they’re doing). Specifically,

Having read and thought more, I find myself agreeing more with Gene and less with myself. I also like Larry Borsato’s post. I agree with Gene that FB has done a good job of walking users through the process, so I’m now in the “Get over it” phase of grieving over privacy.

I’d still rather that FB kept even my participation in FB private unless I say so, and the broadcasting of this info to search engines makes FB feel less like a private garden where I can hang out with my friends. But, I think I over-reacted.

Me too.

But rather than grieving over what BigCos do with our privacy, or getting straight exactly what Facebook is up to, I’d prefer to create tools that give us — each of us, natively — selective disclosure policies that we can pass along to the membership organizations of the world.

We’re so used to living in vendor habitats that we can barely imagine having real power and control in our relationships with them — for their good as well as our own. Selective disclosure has always been a basic tenet of VRM; but just to make sure it’s clear, I’ve added a sentence to that effect here in the about section of the ProjectVRM wiki.

On the way to the airport this morning, my wife and I were talking about one of the big easily-defaulted misunderstandings of the VRM concept: that power for people only comes in numbers, in aggregation. The problem is with the word “only”. Power needs to start with the individual. In a pure VRM context, it’s about my relationship with FaceBook, or Peets Coffee, or United Airlines, or the corner cleaners.

My wife made it clear in a conversation we had on the way to the airport this morning. That’s why I made what she said the headline for  this post.