In Thomas Friedman's recent column, The Whole World is Watching, he reports on Dov Seidman's book How. Both writers talk about the transparency with which we are living our lives. Friedman writes that with blogs, video cameras and YouTube, "everyone else is a public figure...and each of us is so much more transparent."
And Seidman's book, he writes, is about how one's reputation in life is going "to get set in stone so much earlier." It's "a digital fingerprint that never gets erased" and that second chances will be harder to come by when your resume may play second fiddle to a Google search about you. That the only way to succeed is to get your how's right - how you live your life and how you conduct your business. And do it early in life.
I first commented, I think, on the importance of character in the digital world in a column called Mischief and Mayhem ten years ago and have blogged about the topic. In "Rules for the Social Web," Threshold, Summer 2007, I suggested three areas of danger to students: those posed by strangers (predators), those posed by each other (cyberbullying) and those they pose to themselves (revealing illegal or embarrassing information on social networking sites). Of the three, the last - the stupid things kids do to themselves - is the most likely and have the greatest chances of harm come to a kid because of it..
When I was a little boy growing up on the prairie, we were taught in Sunday school to behave ourselves because God might be watching us. But now do we just assume there is a video recorder running all the time and act accordingly? Might this lead to a world full of people who are nicer - whether they want to be or not? There is definitely something not quite right about this picture.
But we do need to ask, ?How do we teach kids to get their how's right??