I hear a lot of anxiety from other newcomers to social networks. Most of the folks in the film biz I know seem to initially join a network like MyFace for the promotional possibilities and professional networking. Some get seduced by the actual social functions. The anxiety often comes from what will be seen and shared and by whom. Is it good or bad to friend all those who reach out to you even when you don't know them? Will anyone tag you in photos from the past that you would prefer to remain forgotten? That sort of thing.
But there are things that we should be concerned about, things we should ask for, push for, fight for. Businesses talk about their investment in the technology, but little is said about the user/consumer's investment. You create connections. You tag information. You provide data, but none of it is yours. Your life in MyFace is life in a prison cell. If you leave the network, you leave behind all of your work you created there. You think you have a 1000 friends but how do you take them to another planet with you when you want to travel.
If 2008 was many things (the year of change, the year of hope, the year unregulated capitalism and greed revealed its true demonic ways), 2009 may well be the year that freedom starts to go both ways, that people push for equal rights for what they create, that we move from impulse to choice. One can hope at least.
Bill Thompson has a good post on the BBC site "The net and the real cost of free" precisely about data portability. This issue is central to all media makers. We need to own and or at least have unlimited access to the data we generate: our friends, our tags, who watches, what they watch, when they watch, where they watch. Read Bill's piece and started thinking about what really is yours.