Tired: Sharing; New Hotness: Privacy

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From del.icio.us to Google, the concept of sharing even the most detached information one generates willingly or unwillingly has far less appeal than the concept of privacy.

Delicious founder Joshua Schachter recently announced an update to his popular bookmarking service, now owned by Yahoo. The new feature, private saving, has been rolled out in beta for testing by the user community.

Even though the whole point of Delicious has been sharing, users requested this feature in sufficient numbers to prompt Schachter and company to implement it.

A sharing service without sharing? Scott Karp, Publishing 2.0’s erudite blogger, called this “completely antithetical to the whole concept” and speculated it could be part of a larger trend:

Could this be the beginning of the privacy backlash against the Web 2.0 “social” lovefest? If nothing else, it raises fundamental questions about the mainstream viability of the Web 2.0 value proposition, which assumes that everyone will find value in sharing everything in public.

Here’s a Web 2.0 test: pick any of the hundreds of Web 2.0 apps the enable users to “share” and see if you can find on the site an explanation of WHY sharing, tagging, and being social with your media is a GOOD thing. Do any of them explain the value of sharing, or do they all just assume, a priori, that all users will think this is just the best thing ever?

Recently, Google managed to defeat what it considered an overarching subpoena from the Department of Justice for access to Google’s database. Google enjoyed considerable support from the online community, and the Wall Street Journal weighed in with its support in an editorial the day after Google’s court victory on the case and its impact on Google and search rivals Yahoo and MSN:

The government wants to use their search data as part of its effort to show that the law is necessary to protect minors from the Internet’s seamier side. But these companies are innocent bystanders in the dispute over the constitutionality of COPA. It is one thing when company data are pursued by the government as evidence in a criminal proceeding. Most Americans would probably accept if otherwise private information were turned over to law enforcement in a case where the request is narrowly tailored and probable cause exists.

Privacy is not an outdated concept, Scott McNealy’s famed statement to the contrary. While sites like Isolatr and Snubster have recently launched as humorous responses to the social media focus of numerous Internet startups, perhaps the next splashy startup will be a service that emphasizes privacy as a selling point.

Schachter encouraged the “anti-social types” to give private saving on Delicious a try. There may be a larger market of those people than he imagined.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Tired: Sharing; New Hotness: Privacy
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