There are two types of people in respect to their attitude to information.
The first group is on Facebook and Twitter every day; they use LinkedIn and blog regularly. They are sharing, engaging in a community, socially networking and they don’t mind sharing information. Sharing and socially engaging with others is much more important than arcane privacy concerns. They are open and free spirited and they believe in information value. Information is not a liability, it is an asset. Thus, they don’t ever delete anything – that would be depriving the world of information which is just wrong. Their inbox is full with thousands of emails and they don’t care about filing them. They save every attachment and keep every version of every document. They believe in freedom of information. In fact, they believe that access to information is a fundamental right in a democracy.
But there are other people too out there. They don’t participate in social media, it is just a waste of time – you should talk to someone if you want to be social. They don’t share their personal information as privacy is paramount. They understand that information is a potential liability and so they don’t horde it. They are concerned with every possible legal ramification and so they clean up their inbox every night before going home and they carefully file and categorize information they need to keep. They restrict access to any piece of data they share. In short, they are very conservative about information.
What’s the problem, you wonder? The world is full of left-wingers and right-wingers, right? Well, the problem is that our attitude to information impacts they way we work with others. And so the birds of a feather keep flocking together. They attract each other, creating groups, companies and entire industries that are either predominantly conservative or liberal in terms of their information attitude. Through hiring decisions and candidates’ self-selection, companies are evolving towards being exclusively on the conservative or on the liberal side of the information divide.
So, what’s the future? Two worlds, painted red and blue and divided by an iron curtain? Is one of them eventually going down as a result of information chaos and promiscuity or as result of information paranoia? Well, maybe there is hope. I am encouraged by what the US government is trying to do. The government has been historically on the conservative side of information - they are still digesting the impact of the Freedom of Information Act which rattled every gene of their DNA. But recently, the government has been trying to open up. Driven partially by a presidential directive and partially by austere cost-cutting, the government is trying to combine its traditional security stance with proactive use of social media. And so perhaps it will be the government, finding the right balance and evolving the legislative environment towards unity of the two worlds.