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Towards more publicness

Back when the commercial internet first started to take off it was uncommon to use your real name online. Instead people relied on usernames and other pseudynoms to represent themselves. I honestly can’t remember what I used in those days, but I’m sure it was something ridiculous.

Over time though that started to change. 

Blogging started to take off in the late 1990s. And we started to become more comfortable sharing personal information online. Perhaps the biggest shift though, came with the introduction of Facebook in 2004 (over 10 years ago!). All of a sudden people – young college students initially – started sharing lots of personal information online, including photos of themsleves and their friends.

But this wasn’t an overnight change. When Facebook first launched, privacy was an important component. It still is, but I would argue that it has become less central given how public a lot of other social media platforms are today. Twitter, for instance, is what it is today largely because of its publicness. 

For my own social media accounts, I have made every single one of them completely public. From Twitter to Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat, nothing I post to social media is restricted in any way. And I do that because I believe we are headed towards a world with more – not less – openness, transparency and publicness.

Of course, I’m not just talking about social media and tech. I’m talking about open data in general.

Earlier this year, the Toronto Real Estate Board clamped down on real estate brokers who were publishing historical sales data online. Citing privacy concerns, TREB ordered them to stop or lose their access to the MLS system. 

For those of you not from familiar with the Toronto real estate market, historical sales data for homes is not open and published online. You generally need to go through a realtor to get access to this data. Some think this is the right approach. And others think it is antiquated.

But as I explained above, our conception of what should be private can, and will, evolve over time.

Here are the details on my home:

I purchased it in September 2012 for exactly $400,000 (Canadian). It’s a 650 square foot condo in the St. Lawrence Market neighborhood of Toronto. It has one bedroom, a 400 square foot terrace, one parking spot, and 10′ ceilings.

Sooner or later, I believe this information will be freely available online. But since that’s not the case today, I figured I would just tell you. Sharing this information is not a big deal for me.

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