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Will The Web Make Us More Honest?

3rd September 09

In a world where it’s too easy to get used to things coming in 140 character-sized packages, everything happening in real time, and thinking about the future and what it might bring means having a debate about whether Tumblr is better than Posterous, it’s always refreshing  to have something more substantial to chew on. A proper three-course meal versus repeated, ultimately unsatisfying, trips to the snack cupboard.

We’ve been digesting – and debating – a post by Walter Naeslund on his very excellent blog. Naeslund is, in his own words, ‘an internet freedom fighter and CEO of the Stockholm based communications agency Honesty. [He] also give lectures and runs workshops on Internet Trends, Modern Communications Strategy and Social Media.’

Naeslund’s post, from Tuesday, was grandly-titled “What the World Will Look Like in 25 Years“. The whole thing is worth a read (it’s not long). He offers a range of more speculative thinking around the way the world might be going, and the emerging role of the web within those scenarios; as I said, a welcome contrast to an increasingly myopic focus on the now.

But what struck me in particular was a short paragraph in which Naeslund speculates on what one might call future ‘ethics’:

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It’s an interesting contention, that there are fewer hiding places in a world of instant access to perfect information, and total transparency. Even if it is likely to never be that flawless in practice (& actually, would we want it to be?), the pronounced increase in sharing of everything about one’s personal life in digital form (what Naeslund characterizes as the merging of physical and digital identities) will undoubtedly bring both costs and benefits.

It’s the last line of that paragraph that intrigues me and that has stuck with me.

Is there any evidence of better behavior and less cheating?

How do we think that might manifest itself, if and when it does happen?

On one hand it all sounds a little Utopian (and some might argue, less fun). On the other, it does sound rather attractive.

What do you think?

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