A Polite Introduction

Darrell, Staff Writer

Greetings, Nymbus readers. You probably don't know me. If you have access to the thousands of searches, credit-card purchases, and blog posts I've made online, you could have a pretty good idea of who I am. Even still, I feel the need to introduce myself. I'm Darrell Johnson, a blogger for this venture known as Nymbus.

The title "blogger" doesn't carry a whole lot of weight in the world, especially if there isn't a slash involved (e.g., "programmer/blogger", "astrophysicist/blogger"). Alas, whatever slashes I could include would seem irrelevant to the topics I'll be writing about. I teach test-prep, I drink beer, and I record a podcast for fans of professional wrestling (yes, really). That's not exactly the resume you'd expect from one who intends to write about privacy issues online. Unfortunately, that's the problem with how most of us treat online privacy -- only the well-initiated super-geeks would even pretend to care. I intend to change that.

The internet is a wonderful place. I say "place" rather than "tool" or "series of tubes" because as abstract as it is, the web feels to me like a global agora. Walk into the internet and you can say, read, watch, or purchase nearly anything you could imagine. As we all know on some level, to attend history's largest marketplace, we must sacrifice some of our privacy. Sometimes we choose to disclose this information (letting Amazon know you like Malcolm Gladwell), but most of the time we don't realize how much information we're giving away (letting Google know that you occasionally cheat at online puzzle games).

It's an issue that gives me constant pause: on one hand, I don't need any government or corporation to know about my every interest and peccadillo. On the other hand, I just explicitly told the world something about how I choose to waste my time, and I'm not bothered at all. In a world of near-complete information, I've become numb to the potential ramifications of giving away every piece of my identity. I'm only one step away from the dismissive and thoughtless trope, "I have nothing to hide, so why should I care?" The thing is, I do care, and we all ought to care. In a way, this blog will be as much about discovering my own boundaries as it will be about how internet companies try to push them.

One nice thing about online privacy as a writing topic is how many different angles and avenues are available. In the near future, I can promise that I'll get into posts ranging from Google's use of your statistics, to the overabundance of passwords, to legal decisions regarding the right to be a liar. I'm excited to be a part of Nymbus in whatever small way, and I hope you enjoy my posts.


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