Saturday, 6 November 2010

Another speed bump on the internet highway

[This is an amended post, after a previous objection.] The flip-side of SAGE (Syndication, AGregation, Entitlement) may be SATE (Syndication, ATtribution, Entitlement).

I felt compelled to answer a colleague's email advertising his upcoming class, which was copied to his business contacts such that we could all see each other's addresses. Not being prefaced in any way, I didn't know who that community was, and I objected to my email being shared in a community I hadn't opted into.
  1. I asked him to blind-copy broadcast emails in the future to protect our identities
    - Bcc: in most emails that must often be added manually and is easily missed
  2. I pointed out that opting in was a marketing requirement, and law in the US and UK
    - briefly, marketers must have prospects' consent before they can send solicitations
  3. I remarked that social media such as LinkedIn offer marketing campaigns targeted at specific audiences like his
    - I didn't mention LinkedIn Groups he already used well, and Facebook that offers the same of both venues
  4. And I suggested that at least he sould:
    - preface his email ("You received this email because..." is a loose form of opting in)
    - conclude with an offer to remove anyone who asks from future email broadcasts
What I didn't explain well enough in my reply - and it came across as a rebuke I apologised for - is that marketing tenet dovetails with one of netiquette: Only share information (addresses in case of broadcast emails) to groups people already belong to - that means they have already opted into that community by joining it - for example if I share family news I put addresses in the To: box, but if I share the same news to friends and famliy (groups that don't overlap entirely) then I put addresses in the Bcc: box.

And I didn't mention that social media like LinkedIn or blogs are less invasive - readers go to those venues and read them if and only if they wish to - is that not anther form of opting in? The beauty of social media is that it simplifies all this – we needn’t even worry about the ins and outs of opting in or out, as the medium itself provides that mechanism. Are social media not an example of the evolution of the internet?
They help us keep within bounds of behaviour - both proper and effective - without requiring us to know the intricacies involved - legal or technical.
It doesn’t mean that either we (here) or carriers (Facebook and Google in recent news) don’t stumble at times, but this is a brave new world – to put this in perspective Facebook and Google are 6 and 12 years old, respectively, whilst the web and email are 21 and 45.