inessential by Brent Simmons

Presence Management

Woof! Woof!

As presence becomes more of a big thing, the old adage that “on the Internet no one knows you’re a dog” becomes less and less true.

They’ll not only know you’re a dog, but they’ll know when you go for walks, what kind of dog food you eat, who your dog-friends are, and so on.

There are two kinds of presence: real-time and not-real-time.

Not-real-time presence includes things like email and weblogs. This type of presence allows for an editable, leisurely, thoughtful projection of self.

Real-time presence is things like chat. You are really there, right now. An amazing technical and social achievement.

My issue with real-time presence is that it feels like surveillance. Voluntary and self-imposed (for now)—but how long before it’s more-or-less mandatory?

Even if it’s never abused by employers and governments and so on, even if it works just the way it’s supposed to work, it still means that you know what I’m doing.

I don’t want my computer to be your eyes upon me.

I want to use my computer to see out. And whatever I choose to reveal of myself I want to be able to think about first.

I don’t want you to know that I’m actually a dog.