How the Internet has changed online behavior

Meliza Solan Surdi · March 19, 2009 · Short URL:

Chris Shipley: The Internet has allowed our lesser selves to come out

In this segment, Bambi Francisco interviews Chris Shipley, co-founder of Guidewire Group and executive producer of DEMO, an event to launch tech startups. Shipley has been watching the Internet and the way startups have changed consumers and the way they interact with one another with product and services. Bambi asks her to talk about the way the Internet has changed changed online behavior.

BF:How do you think the Internet has changed culture?

CS: That's a huge question. Two quick observations. One, it has brought everyone together. It has made us closer. We are reconnecting. I was invited by an old high school friend on Facebook that I haven't seen in 30 years. So obviously it's bringing people back together. At the same time, I think it brings people apart because we can replace our online communications with other kinds of communications and a fundamental of who we are. There is something about a touch and a conversation like this that isn't really emulated well even in video chat or in email. So while I think there is great value in more communication, I think sometimes we lose the intensity of communication because of the nature of that medium. Another thing that I wrestle with is that the Internet has allowed our lesser selves to come out. When you think about the chatter and a lot of blogs, the negativity in blog posts and the fact that you can do search on a major media site on the seven dirty words you can't say on television and they're all there. Our lesser selves are so at the surface and our passionate selves have to be nurtured. And when we can separate ourselves from our identity, we behave really differently. A part of me wants accountability for these sorts of things because if you are sitting here as Bambi and your mother is watching, you're going to behave a certain way. If you're sitting here as Broadcaster 457, you will behave in another way. So I think there is a need to bring our true identities together and to be diligent about it.

BF: Like have an on air-identity as well as an off-air identity?

CS: You could be schizophrenic in one way as well as other ways. But we are on a global scale and we have to be diligent about our passions. We have to foster that and there are many communities that have emerged on the Web to do just that. But there is such a loud voice of anger. I would like to bring those things together and allow our true self to come out.

BF: We could talk for another hour about the passion, transparency, and the identity. But what are the hottest trends when it comes to the Internet?

CS: I think the most obvious one is Facebook. I think of Facebook as an operating system for social communities. The kinds of applications that are begin built on top of that are letting people connect and letting people embrace causes and again, they are doing that with identity. So think that identity has been fundamental in driving that community. What's the number now? Hundreds of thousands of people are signing up daily. Well I think they're doing that because there is a bright light on Facebook. I know who I am. I can control some of my identity but I am also who I am and i have to take responsibility for what I say and I have to take responsibility for the footprints I leave on Facebook by what I've said or how I've behaved or interacted with people. I think that is why it is turning into a productive community and I think that's a positive trend.

BF: Five to 10  years from now, on the theme of identity and transparency, what's going to change?

CS: I think it's important not to confuse identity with privacy. And I think that's happened today. We are going to see some tools that will manage those things to become more well defined so that I can maintain my privacy in a transparent way. I think those kinds of tools, when we can become citizens of the world transparently while protecting our privacy, not our identity but our privacy, we have true value in meaningful conversations on a global scale.

BF: I am sure we could talk about this for another whole hour. Chris, thank you.

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