Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Publisher's Comments

Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Publisher's Comments

Article excerpt

Information ethics. Is the idea dead? In primitive eras (a circle of huts, everyone cousins, mostly one-for-all and all-for-one), everyone knew everything about everybody. The concept of "ethics" didn't exist. Ethics comes into play only when information can be selectively hidden. So as societies developed ways of stratifying themselves, living behind walls, with anointed ones knowing and ordinary ones not knowing, people began needing an ethics of information-well, not "needing" perhaps but entertaining themselves with parsing human behaviors: Whom to tell, how much, when, with what diction and who the earwitnesses...

But now we reapproach the everyone knows everything point, exercising our innate tendency for showing and knowing all. Certainly the primitive culture would have benefited-added protection for all from dangers learned by one. There is a point along the slide line of civilization where both a perceived need and a real benefit for info "ethics" will disappear. We are seeing this today, with Facebook as a perfect example: it dumbly seeks to reveal all to everyone, and manages that despite invasions of privacy unwanted and unforeseen (like two students recently "outed" to their horror after joining a gay chorus at college: Facebook mechanically announced their new social acquisition. …

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