My last post highlighted the current Edge project exploring how the internet is changing the way we think.
One of the contributors is Sherry Turkle, psychologist from MIT who studies the culture of the internet.
In her post she refers to Erik Erikson who argued that adolescents need 'an experience of "moratorium," a time and space for relatively consequence-free experimentation. They need to fall in and out of love with people and ideas'. She herself argues that while 'the Internet provides such spaces and is thus a rich ground for working through identity', it has become clear that 'the idea of the moratorium space does not easily mesh with a life that generates its own electronic shadow. Over time, many find a way to ignore or deny the shadow. For teenagers, the need for a moratorium space is so compelling that they will recreate it as fiction. And indeed, leaving an electronic trace can come to seem so natural that the shadow seems to disappear. We want to forget that we have become the instruments of our own surveillance.'
Certainly I agree that 'in democracy, ... everyone has something to hide, a zone of private action and reflection, a zone that needs to be protected.' So how is this privacy ensured?
We are still in a space where employers are lauded for finding their employees out. Recruiters dig up all they can on prospective employees. Naive employees find themselves sacked. But when are we going to draw the line and allow individuals some rights.
A good first step is to make these practices transparent. If used in recruitment, individuals must be told. If used to monitor staff, they should be made aware of this potential and have the freedom to act accordingly.
[CC FlickR image: publik16]