Monday, April 20, 2009

You think you know me?

After last class' lecture on privacy I began to think about the type of information we freely post online for the world to see. While I am a little more discreet on Facebook because not all of my friends are people I really know per se, I have been fairly free-wheeling on Twitter since my network is still relatively small there. Of course, anyone can see what I am writing, so I do find myself naturally editing myself a little bit.

Some places that many people probably don't consider personal are their online registries. Many sites nowadays allow you to create lists of things you want so hopefully your family and friends will come and buy them for you. When Amazon added their wishlist function I thought it was going to revolutionize gift-giving, but then after putting a few items on my list I completely forgot about it. This goes for when I am giving gifts as well - it never occurs to me to check out Amazon to find a friend's wishlist. Oh well, another good idea that maybe needs a better awareness campaign? I'm wondering if we will see this feature touted much more during future Amazon purchases, because I notice they now have a "Universal Wishlist" which claims you can add any item from any website. Very interesting.

Now after further thinking, I bet one of these lists is a good way to find out more about what a person is into. That's of course if you know the person's email address or name and they haven't kept it private. Say I was about to go on a job interview, could I find my potential boss' list of gardening books and find a way to weave that topic into the discussion? You know, so she would know we had something in common and would want to work with me. Or what if I went snooping and saw that everything she had "saved to buy herself later" was from the self help section, particularly on the subject of depression. Could I consider it a wishlist cry for help?

While I doubt anything that extreme would come of it, I bet you could make some pretty wrong assumptions about people based on their lists. I just hunted mine down to see what I had thought so worthy of bookmarking back in 2003-05 before I seem to have given up on the whole enterprise. Here's what I found:

Perfecto Presents: Paul Oakenfold - Great Wall

Okay, so you might see this and say, Kim appreciates a good DJ, loves trance and has probably been to a rave or two. Well, maybe in my younger, California days. My buttoned-up preppiness abounds these days, so though this album might give you clues about my past, it certainly doesn't tell you much about my present. Thinking back, I may have even put this aside as a present for Nien. At any rate, this album is not tops on my wishlist right now.

This next one throws me completely:

The Teenage Investor : How to Start Early, Invest Often & Build Wealth
So there I was in January of 2004, browsing on Amazon, and I must have somehow come across this. Using my deductive reasoning, I am going to surmise that since I was working in family programming back then, perhaps we were considering a special on teaching children about finance? That sounds pretty logical to me - please don't think this was for my benefit. While I am no Alan Greenspan (and thank god for that these days) I think I am up to the challenge of learning about investing on a slightly higher level than this.

Now we come to something I probably would like, but am pretty sure I already own:

In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003

On the same day in 2004 when I decided to put aside a book about teens and finance, I guess I did a little shopping for myself as well. So maybe if you knew this you would know that I am all about balancing work and fun? What a good detective you would be if you figured that one out. In this case, I would probably be more inclined to make this purchase, but I know I already did, elsewhere and for less money, so if someone were to get this for me now it would be one of those "Oh, you shouldn't have" moments. I should probably take this out of here.

The last item also makes sense to me and doesn't require a long trail of bread crumbs:

The Disappointment Artist

I had previously read two books by Jonathan Lethem, "Motherless Brooklyn" and "The Fortress of Solitude." It would be fitting for me to want to read another of his books, though I do like to mix it up a bit, so I probably decided to give another author a chance. Reading the Publisher's Weekly blurb makes me realize why I wanted to read this though:

Novelist Lethem's new collection of essays starts with an intriguing, if emotionally distant, consideration of his lifelong relationship with popular culture and develops into a moving memoir that transcends those references altogether.

So I'm going to leave this one will either be a reminder to buy it myself once the grad school seas part and I can enjoy some leisure reading once again, or maybe a good friend will look up my list and buy it for me?