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2009: A Year of Tensions and Technology

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It’s been an interesting year on the technology front. Without question, technological improvements have made our lives easier, more efficient, and more interactive. At the same time, however, they continue to pose major privacy and safety concerns that I don’t think we fully understand. Today seemed like an opportune time to reflect upon the past twelve months.

Scary Implications

I can’t help but be a little frightened about the implications of these stories:

  • In March, the Philadelphia Eagles fired Dan Leone, a stadium operator, for posting disparaging remarks on social networking site Facebook. Perhaps ironically, Marissa Anastasio-Leone soon started on Facebook a group intent on making the Eagles give her husband his job back.
  • Professional sports’ organizations such as the NBA and NFL have actually had to create and enforce policies surrounding the use of Twitter during games.
  • Faced with growing privacy and security concerns, Google has had to blur the faces of individuals on its Google Maps application. Technically, this happened in 2008 but I somehow only heard about it in the last few months. (Hey, even tech-boy here can’t possibly know everything about everything.)
  • In April, 18 year old Phillip Alpert of Orlando, FL was convicted of “sexting” a naked picture sent to him by his 16 year old girlfriend. He was sentenced to five years in prison and required to register as a sex offender.
  • Also in April, Philip Markoff allegedly used Craigslist to solicit the services of model Julissa Brisman. Markoff allegedly attacked at least two more women using the popular website.

Questions to Ponder

These stories make me wonder:

  • Why do so many criminals share my first name?
  • Where do we draw the line between work and leisure?
  • Is there such a thing as a private text?
  • How safe can we expect to be online?
  • Do we have an expectation of privacy anymore?
  • Will everything eventually be available about everyone?
  • Are these technological advancements a net gain for society?

Predictions: What does 2010 have in store for us?

Let’s be honest here: Technology isn’t retreating anytime soon. Social media will only make us more connected, more exposed, more vulnerable. Even if we attempt to control what’s said or written about us, the delineation between our public and private lives will continue to erode.

Why do you think that Tiger Woods had to come clean? An insanely private person, I can’t imagine that he’d want to admit to “transgressions” if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. So why? He–and his inner sanctum–know that nothing stays private for very long these days. There are always texts, voice mails, emails, videos, tweets, and other forms of “media” that leak out, no matter how well you cover your tracks.

I certainly can’t predict the future. If I did, I wouldn’t have bought JDS Uniphase at $135/share back in the day. I am sure of two things, though:

  • Technology keeps moving forward
  • 2010 will be an interesting year for technology.

What do you think, loyal readers? Am I wildly off base or are you as curious as I am about what technology has in store for us in the next year?

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4 hopefully intriguing thoughts on “2009: A Year of Tensions and Technology”

  1. Interesting post – to me your most interesting question is “Are these technological advancements a net gain for society?”

    Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about, right? If, as a result of a net gain for society, you shouldn’t have an expectation for privacy, there wouldn’t be something known as a “private” text, and anything on anyone would be available online, maybe it would be worth it?

    However, previous debates with colleagues on the issue of privacy rights has told me that people have a clear definition of their right of privacy and will not waver.

    Just thinking out loud…


  2. Charles Starr said on

    Good post, Phil. I often ask myself if people are too quick to embrace these technologies without knowing the social consequences.


  3. Is it possible to be wildly on base?

    If so, you definitely are with the points made and questions raised in this post.

    2009 was my great awakening in terms of social media.

    Although I had been on LinkedIn since 2007, I initially viewed as just an online resume and put little effort into my profile, only made a few connections, and only joined a few groups.

    This year, I launched a blog, and created accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious, FriendFeed, BrightKite, Google, and Skype, as well as greatly improved my LinkedIn profile.

    It is scary how much personal and professional information about me is now readily available on the Internet. You are right to ask if everything will eventually be available about everyone.

    I am certainly not a Luddite – in fact, is it even possible to be a Luddite these days? I fully expect the Amish to have their own Facebook group and iPhone app any day now – so I do believe technological advancements are a net gain for society (except for FarmVille – that almost on its own has the capability for negating centuries of human evolution).

    Perhaps, 2010 (or soon thereafter) will bring the rise of Anti-Social Media? A cottage industry dedicated to eradicating the unwanted traces of our all-too-digital existence?


  4. Thanks for the responses, buys. There are quite a few thorny issues caused by these disruptions.

    To quote Vince Vaughn in Made: “A lot going on. But, of course, there always is, isn’t there? A lot going on…”


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