The CEO of Google has come out stating that we ought to give more thought to the data we place on the internet. This might on the face of it appear a surprising statement from a Google CEO, given that they are in the business of online information provision. I take it from these statements that the company is concerned with its vulnerability in the data security stakes, given the following issues:
1. Security issues at Facebook
2. Public liability of BP in the Gulf of Mexico
Government is increasingly going after governments for failures to protect people, the environment from all those nasty externalities. Google wants to I guess throw some responsibility back towards the user.
The reality is that people do post a lot of material on the internet, but far from causing the 'loss of jobs' which is the concern, might it actually change the way we view people. Might we actually come to realise that we all have skeletons in the closet, and the best way to learn about people is not to make snap judgements, but rather to learn something about their fundamental character values, their suitability for the job, etc. Perhaps far from simply shifting the burden to the discloser, a greater burden might fall upon the reader of the data to actually analyse the data rather than making snap ill-informed judgements. We will watch social trends with interest.
Cynical observers might disagree, but in some respects we live in a far more reflective society than just a decade ago. Perhaps that is partly because there is more information, but also because there is more reflection, whether its an Oprah or Dr Phil exclusive, or a reality TV show like CSI. TV characters have more depth these days, though it would be a stretch to say that are any more realistic depictions of how people really are, or any improvement in terms of insights as to why they are the way they are. More empathy? No yet, but maybe its coming.