Instead of working on a lengthy paper for college that is due in a few days, I have a slew of disorganized thoughts running around my treadmill of a mind. I am a slow writer, but I think this will be pretty easy. I’ve tried to stay away from writing solely personal entries here, but I think I’ll start adding them in more often. I won’t give away any important information, so all you identity thieves can leave now and find someone else.

At this point, I’d like to briefly discuss the anonymity and private exposure of the web. The web is a public place. Unlike the sidewalk, people can’t see you directly. However, everything you do is possibly recorded and saved forever, and even possibly seen by the government (like buying search data and other stuff). Every time you search something, someone else can see it- including the person providing you internet access (the host of a wifi hotspot), the search company (Google stores their searches on their server computers), and anyone else who can act as a middleman between you and the content you are looking for (advertisers, referring sites, third-party scripts). The most obvious and popular concern is hackers intercepting data that belongs to you. All of these potential viewers may not know your name, but they can get your IP address (your computers address) pretty easily. Nothing is fully private on the internet, unless you send and receive in an encrypted manner and cloak yourself using someone else’s computer identity.

On the flipside, there is a general level of being undetected from your true self on the web. Why else would a grown man pretend to be a young teen in a chatroom and commit a sexual crime as a child predator? People feel secure being outside the boundaries of physical reach. People are less responsible and end up doing or revealing things they wouldn’t otherwise. This isn’t bad in itself, but it creates new avenues of deviating from accepted social practices. Not that every social rule and norm is the ideal, but it’s easy to get carried away especially if you are naive and don’t think about what your doing. Employers have even used online information (websites, myspace, forums, etc.) that was voluntarily submitted by potential employees to make decisions of hiring them for the job. Organizations, sources of scholarships, and any other person or group can alter opinions or take away privileges depending on your behavior on and off the internet.

I haven’t goofed up or did anything to hurt my reputation. I guess I do have a slightly different mode of thinking when using the web, but nothing grossly distorted. I’ve never eaten food off the internet (I contemplate printing out a dozen brownies). Some say that the medium is the message.