Back in the day, businesses had secrets. So did you, but yours were a lot less fun to expose. And then the internet came about, and very swiftly, it became impossible for businesses to keep their secrets. Which, naturally, means that everyone feels like spilling theirs. And, as is the case for every first-run test, everyone did it poorly.
I had a blog. Actually, a LiveJournal. Those were the days. Plastering my mood, whatever music I was listening to, and whatever I was thinking all over the web. I didn’t care because no one else did, it was the Summer of Ones and Zeroes. Privacy was gone in its traditional sense, and instead I got to hide behind any of nearly fifty screen names I once kept active, secure in the belief that anyone digging for my indiscretion would surely be foiled by the sheer amount of other noise that sounded exactly like me all over the web. I spent nearly ten years keeping myself hidden in the murk behind cascades of creative pronouns and the use of everyone else’s screen names in public. It was geek subculture at its finest.
Naturally, it all came crashing down. Just as the eighties had killed the buzz left by the sixties, the Summer of Ones and Zeroes fled under the sheer dominating weight of the Digital Millennium.
I remember the first time I heard of someone getting fired for their blog. They had written a scathing commentary on inter-office politics on LiveJournal and hit the publish button without ticking the box that said “Friends Only” – ruining a career in thirty seconds.Forgot to replace his boss’s name with the usual pseudonym, which was similarly unflattering and appeared on a few hundred angered entries.
Back then (read as about eight years ago) no one had any idea of exactly how permanent the net was. Once a post disappeared from the first page of your blog, it kind of disappeared forever into the mists of the backdated entries, and not too many of us thought much about the repercussions of our actions.
Businesses didn’t seem to have the same problem, really. They always had secrets, but they in general had the know-how to keep them, or at least do something constructive with their disclosure. The common practice of stamping everything with Trade Secret and litigating the snot out of passers-by who meddled was in full effect. What happened to that? Just like with my friend who lost his job, the internet happened. Leaks develop, and the magnifying capability of the Great Index in the Clouds makes it nigh impossible to hide certain things.
Now, however, something even curiouser is happening. Companies have blogs. Company representatives have blogs, about their industry and their businesses. Public personalities are enhancing business in a massive way, turning multinational corporations into the friendly Mom and Pop stores of old – it’s a wonderful phenomenon, even ig it is a bit disconcerting.
Everyone has the capability of becoming a respected publisher. The Huffington Post is overtaking newspapers. Twitter scooped CNN this time last year. And seemingly without a gun to their heads, the small fry are all changing their focus. The purely personal blog is disappearing., slowly but surely.
The personal blog is getting censored by its writer, and being slowly replaced by professional blogs. Even me. I haven’t written a personal update in months, and I find I’m getting a lot more even just in the doing of writing about productive things instead. It feels sort of like if I were Henry Rollins, suddenly becoming an investigative journalist at times. But it’s an interesting experience to take note of, this change from the geeky rant to the respectable practice.
It feels like the internet just left its screaming childhood and is finally going to college. I wonder what it’s majoring in?