Today’s Internet Lesson – #1 In A Series

It was quite the day on the Internet today. Sarah Palin’s supporters were caught editing Wikipedia to match her statements regarding Paul Revere. Representative Anthony Weiner admitted to sending out ‘junk shots’, including one accidentally sent to all his Twitter followers. And Steve Jobs announced Apple’s new iCloud service, offering simple syncing of user’s photos, music and other files. What’s the common thread? The reality everyone needs to grok: everything will eventually be found on the Internet. Let’s repeat that: everything will eventually be found on the Internet.

Celebrities, regular people, even brands continue to get caught with Old World expectations in the New World. E-mails, tweets, blog posts, false accounts, white lies, obfuscations, inflated credentials…by now, I’m shocked that anyone is shocked by any of this. It’s really no different from real life. In real life people take shortcuts, edit the fact, do inappropriate things in front of folks accidentally. Heck, people have been sharing racy photographs for as long as there’s been photography and long before that in what, today, is called ‘erotic art’ – not that I’m condoning any of the actions above. But we’ve gotten used to it in the real world.

There’s a lot of powerful changes that this relatively new phenomenon called the internet activates. As well as silly. But perhaps the most profound that we’re still just starting to come to grips with is the fact that everything will be on the internet. The profound and the not. There’s nowhere to hide. Brands are starting to realize this and getting used to, if not comfortable with, the flubs and missteps humans have had to become comfortable We put our foot in our mouth, do something inappropriate, embarrass ourselves. Most of these flubs are forgotten almost as quickly as they happen. Apologize and move on. The good news is that the river keeps moving and tomorrow or the day after there will be something else.

So when you’re looking at consumer reviews, or searching for the best price on a camera, or enjoying someone’s photo stream on Flickr, just assume anything you do or say or post on here will be seen by everybody you know. So that when it is, you’re not surprised.


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