Is Your Personal Default Public Or Private?


Personal privacy is increasingly an interest of mine: where do I draw the line on my personal default being public? One clear area where privacy matters to me is around anything that adds to my personal data asset and workflows.

I have become a heavy use of Google Reader and bookmarking services. Last week Google Reader added a feature allowing for a public default: each story I read can be shared publicly. 

Initially I thought this was a great addition, another place to build an audience. Since I already read a ton of articles, it would be simple to allow others to follow along while I curate.

However, it then occurred to me that perhaps I am being too generous. Some of my workflows and information sources I consider proprietary. Sure the data I source may be public, but there is an art in my finding it, pattern matching, culling and tagging. What do I truly stand to gain by offering a free curation service?

This is the same situation with bookmarking on While I certainly take advantage of other people’s curation, I’m not sure I’m willing to be as kind. My 9,000+ bookmarks and 400+ tracked RSS feeds have taken time to build and optimize. Would a venture capital firm or angel investor who leveraged a data asset for proprietary deal flow willing share their secrets? I doubt it.

So while I am happy to continue being default public for most things in my life – anything related to workflows that could give me a competitive advantage are off the table. I truly believe my access to these personal knowledge bases are in part what make me a valuable advisor.

Wired Magazine has a good article covering this same issue:

“Beneath all the kumbayas, there’s an awkward dance going on, an unregulated give-and-take of information for which the rules are still being worked out. And in many cases, some of the big guys that have been the source of that data are finding they can’t or simply don’t want to allow everyone to access their information –Web 2.0 dogma be damned!”


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