Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Scoble blogs about secrets. I'm really bad at keeping secrets. That's part of the reason why I love to blog so much. I love sharing information and ideas because the feedback increases my information. I remember attending a conference on intelligence and one of the US intelligence officers said that Bill Clinton complained that he would get "top secret" reports from the CIA only to see them on CNN the next day. The value of many "top secret" documents that he couldn't talk about with anyone was quite low in a world of exceedingly fast information.

I do see the need for secrecy and as someone who is concerned about privacy and security, I think about secrecy a lot. This also ties in with the issue of who should be allowed to have secrecy and that we should limit, if possible, the secrecy of those in power in order to limit their ability to abuse power.

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I've had to think a lot about secrets in the course of writing on the web. In the beginning when I started posting online, few people read web pages. So I felt I had license to speak freely about the folks I met and the things they told me. Not so much their secrets, but their weaknesses as I perceived them. Or intimate experiences we shared.

Those secrets and their power in a way might have fed my journal. People were attracted to the glow it gave off - human truths revealed!

I pulled back from that in time - people use secrets to set boundaries and trust relationships. So I have had to rejuggle my intimacies in order to better enjoy face-to-face experiences. My journal readership might have suffered for it - I stopped checking the statistics years ago.

Now I'm reading a FANTASTIC series of books by George RR Martin - there's a lot of treachery as sport. In the game of politics, secrets definitely map to trust and power. And so in general I favor having few secrets between governments and their subjects. And I often feel dirty when I'm encouraged to keep secrets that have power between more than two people in them.

If we could ditch secrets, we would have better communications. But people have to consent to release them themselves, or they feel too threatened or provoked.

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