I’m so glad that my last name is a common word in many languages, and my first name isn’t very uncommon either. I’ve been thinking about privacy and sharing personal information lately (as you may know), and once in a while it scares me again how easily you can find information about almost anyone on the internet. You can almost get any information from a social network account, and those are very easy to find if you can remember someones name (or better yet: read it from a name tag (yes, I’m talking to you out there, working in a store or sitting behind a reception desk!)), and have a general idea of where they live or work.
And of course, the internet is also meant to share. Share the things you did, the things you like, the things you made. Plan meetings, a night at the club, a vacation, or an online gathering… And for those purposes, it’s very convenient that you can easily find someone you want to share with. But you probably don’t want those things to be public.
Are there alternatives? Well, luckily I’m not the only one contemplating this. I like the upcoming new social networks like Diaspora (or D*), who let you very easily control what you share, and with whom. On the other hand, people don’t use things like encryption very much, and that may well be because it’s not yet that easy.
In the meantime, all we can do is lock up our personal stuff, or don’t post anything personal on the web. Or, we can of course trust anyone who may just know enough about us to find us online.