Since I’m rarely in Toronto and rarely in Toronto for more than a couple of days, I often miss my good and wonderful Torontonian friends.
However, in December, I get to stay a few more days, which I hope to be jam-packed with adventure. Or barring that, hugs and smiles.
I propose that we sally forth on Boxing Day and take over some establishment. An establishment, that perhaps serves food and drink?
416 Roncesvalles Ave.
26 December 2008 at 19h
I’m leaving in about an hour for Toronto and will be there until 28 Dec. Torontonian friends, I’d love to see you again.
girl_tm and I are also leaving for Paris on 29 Dec until 2 Jan. Parisian friends, I haven’t seen you in a very long time and it’d be lovely to get in touch again.
To show how small the world is, we’ll be staying in a Parisian apartment, swapped with someone I met the night before he left Montréal for the City of Lights. And this apartment swap was arranged through the miracle of the Internet. For all of its scariness, it sure is helpful!
Back in the old days, when you could actually write down the names of all the people on the Internet, people simply used their real names, in abbreviated form: ken, gls, dmr, rms, etc. After all, wasn’t the whole point of a world-wide telecommunications network to put people in touch with each other? And if everyone on the Internet was someone you knew or were going to know, it made sense to use real names. That way, you could be found.
Then, the Internet got a whole lot bigger and a whole lot stranger. People started using pseudonyms called handles or nicks, which provided some degree of anonymity. These became commonplace and became the norm. Especially when you consider that using your real name becomes impractical when there are hundreds of Davids or Muhammeds or Lees in the world.
As people joined the Internet, they still wanted to find each other. So social networks are all the rage now. LiveJournal, MySpace, and Facebook all exist so that you can find and track the people around you. With Facebook, you’re even forced to use your real name, to make it easier for people to connect. There is, however, a compromise to be made. Because you post information about yourself on-line, people you barely know can find out where you live, who you hang out with, and what you’re doing.
This is nothing new, though. We used to live this way, not so long ago, when most people lived in small, rural towns. After all, the neighbours talked! There would also be gossips who’d keep track of when you were coming or going, and with whom you went with. Nobody in their right mind would assume that they could keep bad behaviour under wraps, you always had to keep up your reputation. And when someone new moved into town, they were watched carefully until the rest of the townsfolk accepted them. This, of course, was a good thing.
This whole assumption that most people didn’t know about you came with the great migration to cities, kicked off by the industrial revolution. Now there were so many people flooding in that it was impossible to know everyone you met on the street. That brought a big social problem, because now you had to trust complete strangers. Imagine how stressful that must have been! No wonder the biggest problem in industrial London was the Gin Craze, a collective booze-up that lasted until a generation of people had figured out what city life was like.
Now we have to opposite problem: people having lived all their lives protected by anonymity having to come to terms with it being stripped away. If someone wants to find out about you, they can. Be it with Google or Facebook or Twitter, you have to accept that there are traces of you that anyone can see. And that’s got to be pretty stressful too.
So what can we do about it? Friends-locking posts and privacy settings come to mind, but at best these provide a false sense of security. Remember the controversy surrounding LJfind, when people’s friends-locked posts started showing up in public? And now, every few weeks, someone discovers that a Facebook application is leaking their data. But even if you’re really careful on websites, they are still software are written by programmers. As a programmer myself, I can assure you that we make mistakes, and those mistakes include a simple typo that resets your privacy settings. Oops!
If technology can’t help us, then what? The opposite approach is to be wary of the Internet. You can delete your Facebook account, avoid using GMail, and never use your real name on-line. Sadly, the network effect is working against you here, because other people aren’t doing the same. This year, quite a few people have joined Facebook because they weren’t getting invited to parties and stopped hearing from their friends! Social networks have brought social change, just because it’s so much easier to do the things you want to do, when you’re using Facebook.
OK, what if you just like to stay at home and invite friends over? Well, are you comfortable with party pictures appearing on Flickr? Or birthday wishes posted on Blogger? Well, you can ask your friends not to post anything about you on-line at all. But that doesn’t matter, because organisations are busy putting up their own records on-line. Like the Canadian Tax Court records, which include wonderful tidbits about income, marital status, and other information that’s become public record.
Going down this route is getting more and more unproductive. It seems like these days, if you want to stay truly anonymous, you have to build yourself a shack in the wilderness and isolate yourself from the world. But still, someone can impersonate you on-line with a fake profile, if you’re not watching out for that. So you still have to create your own profile from your wilderness retreat, just to keep the identity thieves at bay.
Remember those rural towns I wrote about? Well, they lived life in a way that we’re going to have to go back to. No longer can you assume that you can say whatever you want or do whatever you want and be lost in a crowd. You’re going to be aware of every camera pointed your way and every blog-post with your name in it. Basically, you can’t just assume your reputation, you have to manage it.
Your public image is going to be one of the most important bits of you in the future. Potential employers and potential friends are bound to do a little reference checking with Google. What if the police start using the Internet for investigations? Or schools for background checks? And your on-line presence is so very difficult to eliminate. People used to call it
keeping up appearances, nowadays we’d refer to it as personal branding.
Now I’m not saying that we all have to become full-time professional bloggers. But what you can do, nay should do, is maintain a profile on the Internet that reflects who you want to be seen as. Reserve an account for yourself on the big social networks, put up information that’s relevant and appropriate, and do periodic Google searches on yourself to make sure you’re not being misrepresented.
Maybe some day, in the future, we’ll all be more understanding about youthful indiscretions on-line. But for now, your first impression will be your Google ranking, so you’d best make the most of it.
Every year, the Kokoromi Collective throws a wild party.
A wild party involving video games!
GAMMA 3D was a wild ride of stereoscopic fun.
There were tons of people in 3D glasses.
It was like going to an old 3D drive-through.
An interactive 3D drive-through.
And if you own a pair, you can play too!
Download the games!
To everyone we saw, it was so nice to see you again!
To everyone we missed, alas, we will have to arrange something next time.
It was the first time I threw a party with Flora.
It was amazing to have her friends and our friends meeting each other.
Plus, I got to meet Flora’s new beau.
I’d like to add that Vecchio Frak was very, very nice and very, very accommodating.
And the cocktails were pretty good too!
We shall return.