Privacy will be a central issue


Eagle, CO

Last updated on Aug 31, 2022

Posted on Mar 12, 2012

This was the first post I wrote on heyheyrenee about privacy, on March 12, 2012. I'd write a lot about privacy.

This post is about zeldaB, a site we created circa 2007. zeldaB was the world's first private social network. The site never went anywhere, because no one cared. We took the site down last year.

Looking back, we were right – about everything.

We created because we felt that social networking offered zero privacy. We were right.

But we were way ahead of our time. Now it seems, people are finally starting to understand the ramifications of "Living Out Loud".The back story summary is this.

zeldaB (pronounced “Zelda B.”) was founded by me. My brother Dan came up with the name. “Zelda” is a Bullmastiff, our oldest dog. “B” comes from bees -- they make honey and do good work.

I started in high technology in 1991. In 1995 I bought a book that’s been in my brief case ever since — The Virtual Community by Howard Rheingold. The Virtual Community is about life on the Net at that time. For me, the central part of the story was the WELL (Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link), which was founded circa 1985 in San Francisco. The WELL was a public community where people exchanged private email. What I got out of the book was exactly what’s happened. That the Internet would evolve from a free form digital frontier with anonymity -- to where it is now, a commercial entity where everyone knows if you’re a dog.

I had a personal website in the late 90’s. But I took it offline. Because once I posted something, even if it was by mistake, the search engines had it forever. And technology wasn’t there yet -- it was too much trouble to designate which content was available to whom.

I missed having the site. So around 2005 I decided to make another personal website. This time, I wanted to design the site so that I could control access to my content on a file by file basis. And, I was going to design it so that the search engines couldn’t cache my content.

I found the social networking sites. They weren’t offering anything I’d use, let my family use, or that I’d recommend to anyone I cared about.

In September of 2007 we went to work on zeldaB. It was exactly what I wanted—great for my family and friends. But it just didn't take off. Now I leave it up as a placeholder in time.

In general, I think social networking is a social disease. On social networking sites, you're not the customer -- you're the product. I wonder if people understand that?

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