A Minor Note On Confidentiality

Since I'm overwhelmed with news from CES and need a break, I think it's as good a time as any to revisit my old piece on with a little twist.

I must confess that I'm not optimistic about human nature. But of late I've also found that I also have some reasons to be rather less than optimistic about people's ability to read and understand what is written in a clear and logical fashion - and even less where it concerns their goodwill.

Take my , for instance, which may not be apparent to some people, but which I'm reposting here in its entirety -

The guidelines I follow for publishing anything are:

* It's publicly available info (i.e., I never publish anything people can't find on the Net by themselves.)
* It's useful to me (now and in the near future) as reference.
* It has some bearing on my work, hobbies (which tend to be work-related) or the broad areas of tech I happen to be involved in.
* It's not directly related to work - I never post anything directly related to my work, projects, company or suppliers, except if it's public domain and with at least one external reference (I'm also into information security and have drafted several NDAs alongside legal counsel, so I'm probably more responsible than most people in this regard).
* Photos are often published three to six months after they are taken (esp. devices and on-site photos), to avoid providing hints as to what I'm involved in.

Finally, in case the above does not make it sufficiently clear to you, my views do not reflect that of my past, present, or future employers - i.e., what I post is my opinion. This is, after all, my web site.

You may also want to check the .

Now, I'm used to snide remarks about this site (they pile up alongside the snide remarks about being a user), but what I cannot honestly wrap my head around is dirty innuendo about my "sources of information".

Welcome To The Information Gap

I suppose people who don't know anything about RSS or that have never taken the two minutes it takes to configure a Alert might find it strange that I can find odd bits and pieces of information - which I post because I'm interested in (and like to keep track of) them.

There is, in fact, an "information gap" brewing between people who understand how to use the Web to find the things that they are interested in and those that don't, and I guess it's catching up with me after a fashion.

It is understandable that, due to my having something like 200 RSS feeds (96 "full" ones plus a few hand picked filters that only send me some items) and around a dozen different Alerts to let me know when something I'm interested in pops up on the 'net, people find it odd that I turn up some non-obvious stuff.

And probably even more in , a country which lives off petty intrigue and a veritable ecosystem of lobbying.

After all, I guess most people wouldn't even care about trying to keep abreast of all those feeds, or understand the ways in which you can milk the amazing wealth of information out there. It's just life - people have other interests, and the vast majority of them don't even know what an RSS feed is, let alone understand the concept.

You will note that I'm not mentioning Technorati or , but I'm avoiding that because the very concept of them is so far removed from what most people consider to be sources of information that I might as well be talking about UFOs.

And, of course, people usually have other things to think about.

Making The Best of Time

And so do I, in fact. But I also sleep very little, and find that it's entirely worth my while to take advantage of that to consume vast amounts of information in this semi-automated way, because it helps me understand where the market I'm working in is going.

It's the best way to keep on the bleeding edge right now, and this extra level of awareness has a direct contribution to my working output.

And if you've ever worked with me, you know I care for little else but my work, and that I don't give the time of day to vendors, let alone the competition. Even when I've known them personally for about a third my life.

Alas, this does not appear to be obvious enough to some of those who do work with me, and probably won't ever be even after spelling it out in full.

For some people, networking and personal relationships are one and the same, and a few even seem to think the "buddy system" is the best way to do any sort of business.

And since they can't make a distinction, they assume other people also lack a clear dividing line between their work and private lives, not to mention being able to grasp the notion that others may still believe in a (maybe somewhat outdated and misplaced) sense of loyalty to their employer. After all, if they bend the rules, why not assume other people do so as well?

One of the more interesting comments to my post was Tim's, both because he was the one that got me thinking about it, and that he classified my posture as "almost ".

I think he did nail it, after a fashion - there are things that I simply cannot do, no matter how lightly people deal with them, and one of them is breaching someone's (or some entity's) confidence.

A Minor Event In The Larger Scale Of Things

But let's take an interesting example that happened a few "weeks" ago. I'm fudging the date deliberately here, and I figured today was as good a day as any to mention this (so there is no way people can feel specifically targeted by what I'm about to write).

When something I write about is plastered all over the printed page of 's most popular weekly the week before I write about it and people hint at my having "inside knowledge", that has nothing to do with the technology behind my news gathering.

In fact, it transcends the very boundaries of ignorance (I assume people can read actual words printed on paper, even if they can't figure out how to use an RSS feed), and borders on outright malignancy.

Which confirms the adage that some jokes are not only not funny, they're also a bad reflection on yourself - i.e., some jokes, when stripped down to bare facts and proven wrong, only come to show that you are absolutely and utterly ignorant. Not just about technology and the world around you, but of what telling those jokes makes you look like.

Oh, The Morality

The funny thing about all of this (there had to be an up side) is the length that people will go to to avoid admitting that they don't even try to keep themselves minimally informed - even when they probably should be the ones making the extra effort to get the information firsthand.

But millennia after Sophocles, people still find it easier to shoot the messenger, even when the news is all over the place.