Going public (again)

I started using Twitter a couple of years ago, following the buzz of SXSW ‘07. I started out, as almost everyone did, with my statuses open to everyone. There seemed no reason to be private with my status updates. Twitter was a (relatively) new and tiny service, known only to power-geek types so privacy concerns didn’t really enter in to it.

As I used Twitter more, and Twitter itself became more popular, my updates became more candid - in both opinion and personal information. That’s a good thing, Twitter thrives on open and honest messages. However, around the same time I got a lot more concerned about privacy. There was a variety of reasons behind this, but a big factor was dealing with a handful of… unhappy and not very nice users. Suffice to say the internet is a very serious business to some people, and this shifted my mindset from the hypothetical to a more literal.

I switched my updates to private and was pretty happy with this for some time. But over time the decision irked me, I still feel private updates go against the “spirit” of Twitter. It also caused some technical annoyances, simple things like using search.twitter.com is broken if you’re searching your own private updates. It makes API/feed access all the more difficult too.

Tonight I switched my status updates back to public. I’m not sure if it’ll stay like that permanently, but we’ll see. While thinking about that decision I thought about my reasons for going private in the first place;

  1. Opinions - I tend to be pretty forthright about things I don’t like. With the internet every becoming a permanent archive of everything how would future employers feel about crass heat-of-the-moment comments? The solution here? A little restraint on my part, which all things considered is probably a good thing anyway.
  2. Personal Information - “I’m in place X, doing thing Y!”. This one’s trickier, after all, one of the best things about Twitter is someone else responding “Me too”. But they shouldn’t have to be following me for that to work. Two solutions here, share less -or- stop caring. I think i’ve ended up somewhere in the middle.

So that about brings things full circle. In an ideal world there’s a halfway solution between walled-garden privacy and 100% publicness, but for now the technology just isn’t there and i’m not sure it’s exactly what people want.