jeff jarvis of BuzzMachine has prostate cancer. in this blog post he talks about privacy versus publicness on the internet, the pros and cons. very thought-provoking stuff.
In the company of nudists, no one is naked and there is nowhere to hide. In this space and on my blog, I have been arguing that with the internet, we are entering an age of publicness when we need to live, do business and govern in the open. So I was left with little choice when I learned I had prostate cancer. I had to blog it.
… But I think we need to shift the discussion in this era of openness from the dangers to privacy to the benefits of publicness. It’s not privacy that concerns me, but control. I must have the right and means to keep my disease secret if I choose.
By revealing my cancer, I realise benefits, and so can society: if one man’s story motivates just one more who has the disease to get tested and discover it, then it is worth the price of embarrassment. If many people who have a condition can now share information about their lifestyles and experience, then perhaps the sum of their data can add up to new medical knowledge. I predict a day when to keep such information private will be seen by society as being selfish.
… I believe this openness at the source will become a critical element in a new, linked ecosystem of news, as institutions and individuals will be expected to provide maximal information on the web. Such open intelligence also allows an unlimited number of watchdogs on those in power, helping to bring about a new, collaborative – and ultimately, I hope, more effective and efficient – system of journalism.
So for me, transparency is a necessary ethic of the age. That is why I used my medium, my blog, to share my prostate cancer. If I believe in the value of publicness, how could I not?
essentially, i totally agree with him. and kudos to him for living by his words. i wish i could. yes, i really do. i wish i could be more open about my life. i can’t however, because publicness, as he puts it, is all very well, as long as it doesn’t harm others.
and the fact is that most of us have secrets that could hurt others if they were out there. it’s a fact of humanity.
so publicness, yes. if it doesn’t hurt others. i wonder how Mr Jarvis’ family feels about it.
oh, you can read the whole of his blog post, here.