When it comes to information that any given person regards as intimate about oneself, that should always be enough. It doesn't matter that someone else might peruse that information and say, "there is nothing special here." Why? Because it is not that person's judgment to make. There may be nothing special about my exact bank balance or net worth or state of my health or sex life or political or religious affiliations (or lack of affiliations) or any other information that I may consider private but that doesn't mean I want that information broadcast to the world only to invite identity thieves, malicious third-parties, political enemies, or anybody else who might bear a grudge or harbor an animus to have a field day with it. But they are just "facts", you might say. No, in the wrong hands, they are ammunition by which to hurt you if people want and, even if the facts themselves are innocent enough, people have a ready capacity as may suit their whims or prejudices or any other ulterior motives they may have to do you wrong and what may appear as innocent "facts" to one person can easily be transmuted into a vile weapon that can cost you your job, your important relationship, or any other of many things that might be the subject of someone's jealousy or other animus toward you (a lifetime of courtroom experience has certainly shown me how easy it is for a motivated adversary to take otherwise innocent facts and twist them into malicious aspersions if they really want to). What is more, even if nobody had any interest whatever in harming me through misuse of that information, it is part of my essential humanity that I can separate that which I regard as intimate (to me) from that which is made freely available for public consumption. There is a reason why the word "vulgar" developed negative connotations over the centuries: it originally meant nothing more than "belonging to the crowd." Well, crowds can trample on things you might regard as precious and it should be your choice and no one else's whether you want to open up important parts of your life for public consumption.
If I happen not to want to keep any part of my life secret, well, that is fine too. That is a choice every person can make for himself so long as he doesn't go about over-sanctimoniously proclaiming that others must do the same or harming others about him by revealing things that they consider intimate as he opens the book of his own life to the world.
It is the same in the business world. One can open-source his own works as a matter of commitment to the idea that all information ought to be free or for any other reason but that doesn't mean the law ought to abrogate protections for proprietary, trade secret information that most businesses need to keep confidential information as a matter of competitive advantage. If I am a broker who depends for his livelihood in serving a customer base that it took years to develop, I would be rightly upset if someone came in and simply handed all my customer information over to my competitors. So too would a development team that has invested huge amounts of money and time into a development effort that gives them a significant competitive advantage over others and whose business model turns on keeping that advantage to themselves exclusively. So too would most any company management if its confidential business plans for winning key markets suddenly got broadcast publicly over the web. Examples of this type can be multiplied endlessly and really are self-evident to anyone who has had much in the way of real-world business experience.
Again, any private business is free to make a contrary judgment and to open itself up at every level so that it maintains no private or secret information whatever. That is their choice. But, if I want to keep things secret in my business, no one should be able to force me to do otherwise or to try to shame me into believing that I am doing something wrong.
Laws and public policy cannot make these choices for us as individual actors but it is essential that they set up a structure to protect those who would seek to keep their confidential information private. How and to what degree that happens in practical execution can be a complex topic in our technological age but the abiding principle, to me, is very clear: privacy is valuable in any society and laws should be shaped accordingly.
So, why, then, is this secret? Because the person it most affects wants it that way and the rest of us should respect that person's wishes to keep it so.
The point of the piece is that many of our "secrets" -- things we guard carefully and fear being exposed -- wouldn't surprise, or even interest, other people.
It's just a shift in perspective, not an attack on anyone's right to privacy.
(David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest)
(But this isn't to disagree with the grandparent post, either. Just a statement on perspective.)
But it's difficult or impossible to reverse this, once you've gone down that path.
And as soon as you'll feel like saying something critical, you can very easily be manipulated to remain silent, because the other party will know all your weaknesses. It will know where to attack you efficiently. (And if you take a look at our dumb and immature culture, you will notice that we still think it's ok to judge people, btw. all based on the illusion of "free will").
Derek isn't claiming that your decisions about what to keep private shouldn't be respected, but rather that you - the person who wishes to keep things private - might benefit from thinking twice about what is it you are actually afraid of, and whether it is all rational.
Claiming that her diary was secret because "she wanted to" is really beside the point. People constantly "want" many things which are harmful to them. It is of much higher value to try and help them, than to deny attempts to do so on the grounds that "they have a right to do whatever they want".
In this case, Derek and his friend appear to want something which is harmful to them (almost completely transparency in all their activities, to the extent of revealing a private diary on request). People are just pointing out why this is harmful, and why he should think twice before proclaiming that 'secrets are just facts'.
You can't ever take back having released a lot of information into the public domain - for example a diary would reveal your location on almost every day of your life - very useful to catch you out on some technicality on tax or some other issue. People are already (in my opinion) giving out too much info, sometimes deliberately (Facebook), sometimes without their knowledge (Tempora).
I actually agree with his point about code and ideas (that it's better to share than not), but think it is completely wrongheaded and downright dangerous to extend that as far as a private diary of thoughts and events.
It is completely rational to believe that a growing lack of privacy is a serious problem in our society, and would undermine our freedom from government or corporate interference and manipulation on every level of our lives. You don't have to look far for examples of gross misuse of personal data.
As to the content of the post itself - there are obvious edge cases where releasing private information is harmful. I don't think Derek is claiming that they don't exists, or that total transparency is the best way to go. Let each of us think for ourselves what kind of information we should keep private because of real, rational and justified reasons, and what is based on irrational fears of exposing something that nobody cares about in the first place. I think you will find that often the majority of what people consider worth hiding is of the second kind.
People don't keep private diaries because they believe that "a growing lack of privacy is a serious problem in our society", they keep private diaries because they feel psychologically inclined to do so.
I think blog post appeals to a part of us which wants to be very trusting and open. I actually had a flashing thought of open sourcing our code (which we have been growing for years) but better sense prevailed soon. Of course there are things which we won't want the competitors to know etc.
Although as other commenters have said and I agree, that Derek probably didn't want it to be a blanket prescription. But still it had a pop feel good sense to it. And well thought out 'reality check' kind of response was needed.
My secrets are in my head, I don't talk about them to anyone, I don't write them down. They will die with me.
Of course that doesn't work for a business. But a business is NOT a person, so it's disingenuous to claim that businesses have a right to "privacy". Businesses have no "human rights". Businesses are things, like a table or a shoe.
What if your "secret" is that you're gay and you're in an evangelical hardcore religious family and you want to get out? How do you talk to a help group far away without telling your parents? Is "I'm gay" a secret? You have to tell the help group, but don't want to tell your parents. "Keep it in your head and tell no-one" just doesn't work then.
My mother was a lawyer and always taught us never to talk over the phone about things that were potentially incriminating, much less writing it down -- and this was in the seventies-eighties, long before anything resembling the Internet or the mass-surveillance capabilities of today's NSA.
What I'm saying is that a real secret is something not shared with anyone; if you need to share a "secret" with another person:
- you need to take extreme precautions, such as not talking about it on the phone, not writing about it, not alluding to it when in presence of other people
- you can only talk about it in person, not over any kind of wire, regardless of what you think are good encryption methods
- and even if you do all of the above it's very likely the secret won't stay secret forever
I'd say this is all common sense.
It's of utmost importance that we never refer to businesses' needs as rights.
Would it be good for you? Yes, probably, but it'd be scary. If your competitor can take your customers from you then you need to improve your offering. If they can't then you can probably take their customers from them.
Who benefits from keeping your customer list secret?
Given current events though, I can't help but wonder if there's a subtext about privacy and snooping. If so, then I would venture this observation: Your friend's super-secret diary is meaningless to you only because you have no desire to abuse the access you've been given. Suppose instead your friend's devious enemy obtained the diary. Then, he could probably use it to damage your friend's relationships and/or career.
Now imagine a dystopian future when all such diaries are available to a privileged subset of society. Imagine the power that subset would hold, and all the ways it would likely be abused.
Unless we want to ensure our every communication and personal note is fit for public consumption, some things are by definition our secrets.
It's an interesting thought experiment to imagine such a world but for it to be viable, society would have to have very different views on a lot of things.
Maybe the abuser has a car and victim is relying on mass transit. Or maybe the victim's best bet is staying with a friend whose residence is unknown to the abuser.
Assuming most people on HN are good programmers, there is clearly no linkage between a person's ability to write RoR code and how to reason about normal things in the world. I'm just being honest.
The problem with open information is that those with evil intent can take precautions to ensure their activities aren't monitored.
I think what the author is trying to say is that if you live an open life with few secrets, then your life will be less stressful. He's encouraging us to really reevaluate what we keep secret b/c when you sit down to think about it, it's most likely all in your head.
That's because you're an average Joe.
And even you, you use a pseudonymous account name here on HN.
Now think of all the lives of change-makers, dissidents, activists etc that were fucked up with the use of such private information (from their sexual preferences to who they meet), under all kinds of regimes, in the US and abroad.
Try reading how some of the pioneers of civil rights for blacks were treated, for example, what kind of files were kept on them, how they were setup and pressured etc. It's not like MLK emerged from nowhere, said "I have a dream" and everybody cheered and that was that.
Heck, you don't even have to go that far. Even opinions expressed on HN can get people fired from their jobs if they go public. Even mild ones, including mere jokes said in private: a guy was fired for telling a "dongle" joke to his friend at a conference -- because someone eavesdropped.
Plus, your notion pressuposes that things will always be totally fine (save a "dystopian future"), and nothing will ever make citizens question the government, big corporations, etc. Which does not hold, really. From McCarthyism to the Civil Rights movement, down to the Vietnam War protests and recent stuff like Occupy Wall Street, there's always such discord, and there will be even more in a future with rising inequality and diminishing middle class.
Hundrends of millions (perhaps including you) might continue to be oblivious to all this (as they were oblivious about Vietnam War protests and/or rock n' roll in rural Idaho), but tens of millions were and will be affected.
And I think this article is written targeting the average Joe. Everyone is getting off on tangents about how the gov't is going to go fascist and that privacy is the best thing in the world.
He isn't arguing that privacy is inherently bad, or you should never ever have secrets. Yeah, if your trying to overthrow an fascist regime, it makes sense to have secrets. But again, that's a contrived reason. If you're MLK, that's not really the norm.
The point Mr.Sivers making is - generally people have more secrets than they really need and in the process they're making their lives more stressful. He's suggesting trying to re-evulate your need for privacy (I'm repeating myself).
It's just a call for some self reflection. Everyone needs to chill out a bit.
You don't get it: You can't have democracy in a surveillance state.
It's nonsensical: In what way do you propose to not make the subject of surveillance disempowered?
The key is that government should be unable to prevent you from excercising your rights to action despite knowing that you want to change things. If you really need to conspire in secrecy, then it's probably already too late for anything other than an armed revolution to fix that.
>The key is that government should be unable to prevent you from exercising your rights to action
No that's not the key.
Severely impairing your ability to act or discouraging action by causing pain is essentially as effective as outright prohibition as is lowering someone's public esteem.
Good fences make good neighbors.
It's not because I dislike my neighbors, I just like being able to not look at them and enjoy my home in privacy.
I'd happily share 99% (maybe even all) of my life with the whole world, every step taken and every breath taken, but that would be on my terms. (I kinda am, by agreeing to everything Google asks of me)
Would James Buchanan have a chance at becoming the President of the Unites States in today's society? Assuming he actually was gay: would a 2013 version of James Buchanan be able to keep that a secret if the right person in the right chain of command happened to be ill-willed?
What in general would you say people keep secret that adds to their stress?
Maybe some people here on HN might be over the top paranoid, but Joe Average? Sure, maybe they shouldn't have that secret affair and hide it from their spouse, but they probably already know that's a bad thing.
That's a contrived reason too.
For one, it SHOULD be the norm. "Be the change you want to see in the world" and everything. It's not just something to pay lip service to.
Second, it doesn't matter if it "only" affects only 1 in 100,000, because what those 1 in 100,000 do affects millions of lives themselves. Heck, MLK was 1 in 250,000,000 and he affected the whole of the US.
>The point Mr.Sivers making is - generally people have more secrets than they really need and in the process they're making their lives more stressful. He's suggesting trying to re-evulate your need for privacy (I'm repeating myself).
Given the widespread violations of privacy, such an attitude is harmful even on the personal level. It can be seen as essentially a "giving up" to pressure from the goverment/spying corporations like Google.
But it gets worse, because it's also quite trivial, and the example he gives is bad. His friend might not mind showing him her "private notebook", because he is just a friend (probably not even a close one at that, since all of the stuff she wrote, he said it was irrelevant to him).
How about showing that same notebook to her husband, her children, her parents, her boss, close friends, some person she writes negatively about etc? Despite her giving lip service to openess, there's a reason she reffered to it as "ultra secret".
There are lots of secrets people want to have. And not just some MLK types: hundrends of millions of people.
How about trying to smoke a joint in the privacy of your own home?
According to some stats, tens of millions have done it, including in states that it's illegal. Should they all go to jail?
Or have an affair without your partner knowing?
Or what if sometime you visited a prostitute?
Or tell your friend that your boss is a jerk?
Or watch porn? Perhaps even kinky Japanese tentacle stuff.
Or write a comment against GOP / Obama in an internet forum.
Or discover you're gay at puberty and not announce your friends/parents until you decide the time is right?
Are you allowed to all these "secrets" (and tons more)? Why the fuck should anybody else, and especially the government, have this information on you?
Only a puritan society, that thinks all such stuff as "immoral" would see as OK to not be able to have secrects on such matters ("cheating on your partner? That's bad, and they should now it").
As for, "how the gov't is going to go fascist" -- who said it isn't already in certain aspects? Fascism is not a "take it all or leave it affair", you can pick and choose from it's practices. A basic characteristic of fascism was spying on their own citizens. And there are lots of others (e.g the ratio of incarceration and the militarization of police force is unprecedented in a regular Western democracy like France, Britain and co).
At no point does the author mention the government and at no point does he mention making every aspect of your life public.
Seems like most of the people replying either didn't read the article and they just want to vent. There are legitimate reason to have secrets, and there are reasons that are stressors and actually serve no purpose.
Completely different topic:
"Be the change you want to see in the world"
I didn't think anyone actually believe that literally till now. You want everyone to picks and chooses what laws to abide by?
The reality is that punishment goes into the cost benefit analysis everyone does. For example: Say I believe I should have the right to hire a prostitute. Should I do it out of principle? How about if I don't want to risk going to jail? Is that not a valid reason?
In this case I'm okay with having my right infringed, because I realize that it's not just my world to live in, and we as a society agree on some rules - some of which I don't like.
No, but others in this discussion did (mention both) -- a discussion is not constrained by exactly what served to start it, it explores other tangents. Especially in this case, it was inevitable that TFA's advice, while meant for personal use, also had to be considered in relation with the current privacy issues in general.
>"Be the change you want to see in the world" I didn't think anyone actually believe that literally till now. You want everyone to picks and chooses what laws to abide by?
No, I want everyone to fight against injustice and for his principles, instead of self-identifying as an "average Joe" (only concerned with his personal affairs).
>In this case I'm okay with having my right infringed, because I realize that it's not just my world to live in, and we as a society agree on some rules - some of which I don't like.
Perhaps, but there's still a huge part of life, involving perhaps 100% of the population, that's against some law or another. From a 19-yo drinking beer with his friends, to a guy ripping of a DVD using DeCSS, to Kerouac using his drugs and America getting a literary masterpiece out of it. And to millions of gays, for example, having sex besides sodomy being a crime back in the day ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodomy_laws_in_the_United_State... ).
What makes society tolerable is that not all those laws are (or can) be 100% enforced all the time. A total lack of privacy brings any of those "offenses" towards being discoverable and punishable, which is a dystopia in itself.
I bet your own mind isn't an open book, you have desires and wants, knowledge, aspirations, and things that belong solely to you. This isn't to be looked down upon, everything shouldn't be an open book for the world to read and judge upon and they should belong to you. That isn't unhealthy, it doesn't mark a lack of moral character, it's your own internal conversation, and frankly, more people need to learn how to work within themselves instead of making everything an open book for everyone else to judge and comment on like they are the Kardashians.
But what about someone with mental health problems? Depression or anxiety? A past drug addiction, or merely alcoholism? A criminal record? How about something as "innocuous" as a drunken one night stand while in a committed relationship? Is it so difficult to imagine how, if widely known, these facts might impact someone's ability to hold down a job, or their relationship with their neighbors?
For other people who do have things they'd rather keep private, it's not just in their head-- it can have a wide variety of implications in your interactions with people & society if it becomes common knowledge. If nothing else people will look at you differently. And a lot of it has happened in the past and is unchangeable, and therefore unactionable in the present.
As truth becomes the norm, the value of lies becomes greater. If you lie constantly your lies have less value, than if you tell truth but lie about important facts.
IMO Truly open society can only be established if faking a signal is impossible. Which I doubt it will ever be.
Good enough for me!
As far as "enemies trying to ruin lives", it's wonderful that you are so privileged as to even be able to think of that as "contrived", but you would do well to pay attention to other people's situations.
It could also mean reevaluating what you've made public, and deciding what should be secret.
> It could also mean reevaluating what you've made public, and deciding what should be secret.
aka chilling effect - surely you're not seriously advocating for it?
"Dystopia" wouldn't seem so contrived to residents of East Germany under the Stasi. We're not speaking in hypotheticals. There is precedent for societies using the available technology to erode privacy as much as possible.
"Enemies trying to ruin lives" wouldn't seem so contrived to some people who've had abusive, stalker exes. Read about some of the things people do for personal vendettas. It may not have happened to you, but it probably happened to somebody you know.
"I think what the author is trying to say is that if you live an open life with few secrets, then your life will be less stressful." Until someone unexpectedly uses your personal information to materially harm your well-being. Then your life becomes much more stressful.
You consider yourself part of the 'in' group. I follow all the rules, why would anyone bother me? And that works fine until one day it doesn't. The day that happens you'll get no help from the other people that think the way you do.
It's one thing to never have been persecuted or discriminated against yourself, but it's not really excusable to be so completely unaware of your own privilege and sheltered life.
The world doesn't need to know your sexual quirks, or your bank balance, and you shouldn't feel the need to broadcast it.
People I interact with know I have a wife, they don't need to know her favorite lube or position. That is crude and unnecessary, and a society that expects that knowledge and welcomes it with open arms has a major root issue.
Surely that power comes not from the honesty of the words in the diary, but from the fear that those words become widely known. Do most people have something to hide that is so shameful, so damning? In many cases is secrecy a luxury we might quickly be happy not to have? Is this current need for privacy because society is less accepting of us as people? Perhaps our obsession with privacy is the problem, not the solution.
Have you ever complained to a friend or family member about your boss? Then the answer is yes.
Have you ever said something really embarrassingly politically incorrect? Then the answer is yes.
Have you ever possessed an illegal drug, including alcohol while underage? Then the answer is yes.
I don't particularly worry about my individual privacy, or care about securing my things. If someone managed to get a hold of my email, I wouldn't be very put out. I don't encrypt my hard drives, or even back anything up. My lack of security and privacy hygiene, however, doesn't extend to my work stuff. I care about maintaining the confidentiality and privacy of that stuff because it's part of a social contract (and I suppose also an employment contract) that I have with my work and my clients.
Instead of his diary example, what if he had asked his friend "Can I copy all of the emails off of your phone, or all the phone numbers in your addressbook?" Maybe they still wouldn't care, or maybe they'd now have to take into account the fact that all that data also involves other people, and maybe they wouldn't find it acceptable for you to give our their cell phone number to anybody who asks.
So much of the data that we accrue is increasingly more interconnected with other people. I feel like that's where we run into trouble, because there is no universal consensus around what's private and what isn't. We have rudimentary laws protecting the smallest subset of data which the government has decided should be considered private, but everything else is a value judgement for individuals (and is part of the current internet company land-grab).
I feel like his position is going to be harder and harder to maintain, as more and more of the "personal" data he's okay with sharing includes other people's data.
You might like the book "The Light of Other Days"!
We live in "luxurious" times as it pertains to what we consider privacy today.
With society heading more towards social media, connections, and networking. Holding secrets seem to be pretty difficult.
If someone were to ask me to tell them a secret, I wouldn't even know what to say. It seems like all aspects of my life is already known by one person or another, or maybe it's so secret that I don't even remember it myself.
I wonder if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
It's all fine until you wind up on some sort of watchlist because of something "someone" found, and then travelling by air is a nightmare.
I'm not sure why, exactly, we decided that people we don't like but we can't pin any crimes on are punished by having limited access to air travel, but that's how it is!
On a related and more personal note, I once got in a large amount of trouble for a slashdot post. The company I worked for found a post I wrote when I wasn't an employee discussing social engineering attacks on building security(not theirs, mind you, but general ones). This led to some very tense discussions where I was accused of being a hacker, not caring about security, and plenty of other things. My personal (though public) livejournal came to the discussion, too. It was to the point where, if they tried to haul me in again, I would have requested an attorney.
It ultimately blew over and was recognized for what it was; Corporate Security trying to justify the money they spent on data mining. But it was a very tense period.
After that incident I keep things a lot less public.
I wouldn't stay for a company that shows such contempt for its employees and such incompetent waste of everybody's time.
Uh - yeah this is completely naive. Here is why; the informatin is meaningless to you only if you are not looking to manipulate, exploit, blackmail or have the upper hand of the person holding the secrets.
This is why the dragnet is insidious. Because it may be insignificant to the rural farmer; but valuable aagainst the urban lawyer seeking office, the corp exec or other heeled/monied power wielders...
-- Often attributed to Cardinal Richelieu
Or rather, instead of meaning "everybody is guilty of something", I interpret the message as warning about the dangers of relying on a quote taken out of context.
It's not a concerned person's warning, it's a gloating celebration of ruthlessness, of power, and of the inconsequentiality of facts. It's bragging.
If your every statement is recorded, it will be possible to find something in that record to make trouble for you, should powerful parties feel the need. "Guilt" and "innocence" are, in this context, meaningless abstractions.
He's talking about individuals willfully releasing information, not some secret government program to collect all your personal data that has ever been on the Internet.
He, as I quoted, notes that this information in the super-super private diary was not only provided to him for perusal over cider, but that it was nothing that was of interest to him.
This is a ridiculous statement, to me, on several levels. To illustrate, please provide me the email address of the friend with the super-super private diary; I would like to ask anonymously over the internet to be afforded the same luxury of reading this material. Do you think my request would be agreed to? No, this guy had a personal relationship with this diary author, however intimate/or not, but it was a personal relationship none-the-less.
The idea here is that there is private information that one should have private from anyone - but will choose to share it with those in their intimate circles. This is not the same as saying "Why is anything that is factual secret" and thus who cares if it gets read by some anonymous entity that may or may not have any vested interest in knowing my secrets.
"I was surprised it was all meaningless to me. These pages meant the world to her, but to me they meant no more than any non-secret conversation we’d ever had. It was the same stuff that we all think."
The key here is "meaningless to me". It's obviously meaningful to her. And it would also be meaningful to her family, or romantic partners, or a potential employer, etc.
Privacy is contextual. I often joke that it wouldn't bother me personally if Google or the NSA poked around my e-mail. But it would bother me a lot if my mom did.
I bet you could find people for which her diaries would not be "meaningless" and could make this person not feel happy about that information being known here. Here, we can make someone like Nelson Mandela seem horrible, just think how would we could make this women feel.
You don't have to get out dystopian examples of why this view is basically stupid. It doesn't stand up to common sense.
How do I know this? I live in a very small, strict university setting that presents a picture of the potential of a future of "complete transparency". Even the hint of "lawbreaking" (i.e., rule-breaking) can land you in serious trouble. Trust me, I take privacy very seriously. Not because I have something to hide, but because I have everything (in the short-term) to lose.
I know what I've said is mostly anecdotal due to the implicit nature of choosing to be in this environment; however, were this environment the world at large, I believe my anecdote would be normative.
Personal question, obviously, so feel free to tell me to shove off, but I'm very curious how intelligent people make these decisions.
Also, I would argue military academies have such demands upon the person.
And seriously, this is your entire project list? "Everything is listed..." As a programmer and someone who sees how other programmers work, I am not buying it.
Please don't lecture us on secrets with weak false examples. It comes off as disingenuous.
I wish my list would grow past 0 items.
I honestly have no itches to scratch.
> I honestly have no itches to scratch.
Looks like you do have an itch to scratch...though I can't think of any good solutions to wishing for more projects.
The diary is 'non-intrinsic' because he doesn't have the context in which the information makes sense. A series of usernames and passwords is secret because it is self referentially useful.
Stuff in the first category can become useful over time (the Mosaic effect) when someone suddenly lashes out about something and that connects the context of a series of family dramas. Stuff in the latter category is useful right away.
Its useful to think about both cases. (oh and I really enjoyed reading through the ideas, they are fun) I should put my list up somewhere as well.
But if I don't want to no-one should judge me for making that choice. And I should not judge those that choose differently.
While this can be true, it isn't entirely reliable.
It's one of the reasons why I think game creators and music creators shouldn't be afraid to take a stand on pricing. What is your time and work worth?
This is probably a common thing. Seems a bit similar to Stockholm syndrome. Anyway its probably an automatic self-defense mechanism.
The scary part is that a significant portion of the population is probably also doing a similar sort of rationalization now.
People will eventually accept any circumstance that they can't change, unless it is going to kill them. Actually, even if it _will_ kill them. In fact, our inevitable death is one aspect of life that people will often rationalize in the most determined way.
We can change this circumstance though. We can have privacy, even in the digital age. Don't give up your natural rights so easily.
If I ever write a game FAQ, it's going to end with "if you figure out a way to make a profit off of this, you are legally required to let me know how you did it so I can congratulate you."
That said those disclaimers offer no more power than a faq without a disclaimer.
As a though process, lets replace "you" with:
a) her employers, colleagues, etc
b) any of her family members that she talked about
c) her significant other, partner, etc.
Now, do you think she will let these people read her diary? Do you see how dangerous these "secrets" are if these parties get their hands on it?
IMO there are always valid or invalid reasons for keeping secrets (privacy is actually the real topic here) but the real question is whom are you keeping this secret from.
Not everything needs to be secret != everything should be public
His post is written to describe his personal journey about his personal attitude towards his own work. I think a lot of people are misinterpreting him to be saying something broader and blunter than he actually is.
A major challenge in communication is to not be misunderstood. I must not have been clear enough. I never said anywhere that everything should be public. Only that I decided my code and ideas didn't need to be secret.
I think maybe commenters here are reacting more to other commenters, instead of the actual article, now.
I’m not worried about someone finding out my secrets, because secrets are just facts, right?
and go on to an example of a diary, one of the most personal artefacts we have, and imply that sharing it all with anyone who asks (as per the above statement) is absolutely fine. The implication of the above statement is that all secrets are pointless, including personal ones. In the context of a society in which governments and corporations are spying on every communication and looking for ways to justify it, this attitude is actively damaging and is an after-the-fact justification of that spying.
I think many people would agree with you that opening up your private code repos is a worthy thing to do, and it's certainly an idea worthy of discussion, with pros and cons (as you rightly point out, to do with maintenance and the public commitment more than anything else). The mistake in this article is relating that to personal privacy, and implying that secrets are just facts is a statement worthy of consideration.
If secrets are just facts and cannot hurt you, there is no point in keeping anything secret at all. Unfortunately other people in the world are quite capable of twisting the most mundane facts about your life (like your location at every moment, your sexual preferences, whatever), and using them to destroy your life, either because of their prejudices, or because of those of society at large. Witness politicians brought down because of some affair, or their private sex life - we don't know how many of those are leaked by our 'security services' for political gain but they certainly have done that in the past. No-one deserves that much power over others, and because of the asymmetry of power in our society, private information is far more useful to some people than others.
Perhaps that is not what you intended to imply, but that is the logical conclusion of the statement and your interpretation of it, and that's why people are reacting so strongly to it.
Everything is a pretty broad word.
Doesn't this address your attempt at a point? He has some things which he realized he kept private for no reason so he opened them up. The content of peeps is, in fact, not his to share (if I gave you my phone # to contact me, I would not consider it reasonable, without foreknowledge, for you to dump it into a public DB).
And then, there are things like: http://www.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/charlotte-laws-hunte...
You're stupid. That's not a secret tho - it's just a fact. I'd happily sugar-coat it but I'm tired of feeling like we're degrading our minds since internet came around with fast paced sensationalistic crap.
Yes my code is probably useless to others and so are my super-super secret diaries. However, it is only a matter of time that a smart con-man will connect the dots to ruin my life - my relationships, steal my identity etc.
"Going through my stuff... if they become upset, its their problem, not mine!". Right, until I realize that going through that stuff actually made them happy instead because of how they could use it to profit themselves.
Similar things happen when you are writing code for yourself and yourself only. When I write code for my own pleasure. I don't care so much about documentation, clarity, robustness, polish, etc. Yes, I am a bad, bad person. Anyway, compare writing code for yourself with code you share with friends (generally supportive, but add some polish and fix that hack so they don't think you're a complete idiot), colleagues (semi-critical yet supportive, maybe try to score some bonus points using a FactorySingletonVisitorBean) or hackerne.ws (super-critical, probably rewrite it in the language-du-jour first, prepare to be burned at the stake anyway).
If he was really interested in such ideas, he would know and use GPL/AGPL/MIT/Apache licences already for his code, and CC for his writings.
Instead he makes everyone hippy dippy stupid about secrecy and privacy. It might all be fine when you are rich, cis-straight and white, but a single non friendly idea and you are a threat to the state.
People that cheapen our privacy and secrecy rights shouldn't be allowed this much airtime.
There's certainly a large amount of people prejudiced and powerful enough to harm those who don't fit their worldviews, but be careful, too, to not let cynicism taint your views or you might become a bit like them.
Derek's post tells a personal anecdote, but the conclusion has a business angle: "I wanted to challenge that fear that someone is going to steal our ideas."
Sometimes you're hiding a business idea. Sometimes you're hiding a state secret, or keeping a state from discovering a secret. However, most of the time, we're hiding personal secrets about our lifestyles because society doesn't like them.
Since you mentioned "cis-straight", I think Derek's argument is in the same vein as the advice given to LGBT children: do not try to be someone else just because some people don't accept what you are. Be yourself and be proud, or at least comfortable.
: You're right about the state or another powerful entity going after people who are somehow unsettling them. My question is: is it better, in the long run, to hide and stay silent, or to stand up and be heard by the rest of society?
Being openly gay in the 1940-50's in some places in the US may very well have been a death-sentence. Those people would have been wise to keep their sexuality private (or move somewhere a bit more progressive). Likewise today, you wouldn't have to look too hard to find countries where people have to hide their true beliefs from repressive governments or society out of a justified fear of harm.
What I think the commenter meant to say was that the blog author is a member of (I assume) a privileged class in (again, I assume) a privileged society. The public/open lifestyle he suggests might be a worth-while pursuit for others in a similar position as he, but it may very well be foolish for those less fortunate. Context matters.
Yet that is the conclusion he comes to.
The other possible conclusion, as I noted, is that he has previously been unaware of Free/Open Source and Creative Commons based licenses. In which case he needs not talk on secrets but rather on licensing.
And given that Derek has code licensed under MIT, your conclusion that he was unaware of that license is obviously incorrect.
>> "Pages filled with words about processing family drama, formulating goals, plans for life changes, romantic details, lists of regrets, contemplations, etc"
C'mon, those are her super super private secrets? Thats ridiculous. 'romantic details' may be a little bit...
Thats why she says "So if someone is going through my private things, for example, and gets upset about what they find, then that’s their problem, not mine!”"
But things people like to keep really secret (and not coyly secret) and worry about others finding out, are those that would upset themselves (and not the readers) if they get discovered. These would be things that one is ashamed of, that one is afraid of being discovered, that if known to others will result in loss of respect/love/admiration/consolation etc that they are currently receiving from others. Or those if discovered by the wrong person can leave one vulnerable to exploitation/blackmail etc. Any other type of secrets are just silly and overblown.
Like when I was working on Capsulr (http://capsulr.com/, shameless plug), I worried about showing people stuff too early, until I just realized that most people probably wouldn’t even see the site, or if they did, most wouldn't even see the product the same way that I see it evolving. It’s kind of helped me to start documenting my work, and I find that sharing notes publicly (just with myself) is a load of pressure off my shoulders and is worth the tiny possibility that someone might take it and run with it.
It's been great so far. I get all the benefits (like godoc.org providing docs for my code, free github repos, easy to share links with people, etc.) and none of the disadvantages.
It's a personal choice, and not for everyone. But it just makes life so much easier. In fact, I'm trying to reduce the number of things that I'm forced to keep private because they're considered to be "security questions".
On theft of ideas: https://twitter.com/shurcooL/status/266294572949327872
Keeping your material projections close to the vest, keeping them out, as far as possible, from the unpredictable hands of the future is just good sense.
The times are changing. We have very little grasp on how what we record now - private, public, or otherwise (?) - will impact us in the future.
There's a virtue in openness, to be sure. But maintaining privacy is no bad thing. No matter what the talking walnut says.
Sure, it's their problem. But they might have power over you. If some intolerant family members discover you're gay, you might get kicked out of the house. If parents discover their child is trans, they might try to "beat it out of them". An abusive husband might find where his wife has run off to and "finish the job".
But, hey, they're problem! right?
Move the clock back 40 years on the romance section. Imagine it references homosexuality, and ask yourself if the author's theme of "what's the big deal" is appropriate.
OP is under the mistaken belief that everyone else shares their morals and mores. They have plenty of time to be rudely defenstrated.
This is the danger of confusing exhibitionism with free-spiritedness.
It is a first-principle error to devalue privacy. OP should be ashamed of themselves. They need to read up on humanity's very short history of tolerance for true individualism. OP should read up on Alan Turing for fuck's sake.
Fuck this fool.
Telling the intolerants to suck it up, in particular by openly leaving the closet, was the solution that worked to solve the problem.
Lots of people have secrets that are harmless but can destroy them if they end up in the wrong hands, e.g. homosexuality within a conservative community.
But unlike some on HN, I will continue to live in the real world.
There are 2 rules to success:
rule 1: Never tell everything you know.
edit: read a bit about Derek Sivers, this guy is either the counter example or his rule no2 is really worth knowing. Almost all my best reads of the past 10 years are on his book list.
He sold his company to a perpetual charitable trust which then sold it to a third party, shielding himself and saving a bundle in capital gains tax and providing residual for his whole life + supports his cause(music education). Kudos Derek. I'll be reading the books on your list; maybe to catch a glimpse of your rule no2?
You should of asked what her pincode was for her ATM card...
I do not understand any of this behavior. I'm said to be a 'private person.' But it's clear to me that the zeitgeist is definitely not on my side here. I also wonder what all of this will be like in 20 years, given that Facebook has only been in widespread use for an utterly paltry 5 years.