How much is too much?

I came of age reading Robert Heinlein. This fostered in me an innate understanding of and respect for those people who choose to live off the grid, on cash, and resist a microchipped, google earth mapped, future where personal privacy is not possible. This lifestyle choice is rapidly vanishing.

In general, especially as we become more tolerant of the differences in each other, I’m OK with the loss of privacy and the growing transparency with which we must all live. Indeed, I’ve chosen to blog, and participate in facebook, twitter, linked-in, flickr, plaxo, etc. There is a lot of me on the internet by choice.

And yet, with all of these public access points, I have been largely able to control what information is displayed and how much to share with whom.

Because of my recent change in employment status, I have been applying for interesting work from Seattle to Geneva. I realized recently that the employer for one of the jobs I applied for posts almost all proceedings online, in virtually real time, including my recent job application (as well as those of the 4 other candidates they might move forward with). No subscription or password needed (for the ultra curious, my job application is tucked in this 226 page PDF board meeting packet). And I find this to be unsettling. On the one hand, I now have the names, contact information, job histories, cover letters, salary histories and resumes of my competition. But so do they. Unlike me, most of the other candidates appear to currently be in stable positions. Did their employers know they are looking? Oops. I guess they do now!

Is privacy just dead and I should stop looking for it? Should I just rejoice that I made a decision to embrace the technological changes that meant most of us would be living more public and transparent existences? When should a potential employer advertise the candidates and their credentials to their stakeholders? For this specific job, there are 5 candidates remaining (pick me!). Is that too soon? How many is the right number? Should the information ever go public before a person is finally hired?

I had a job interview today locally (3rd interview for the position, today with the president and CEO of the company). And I felt compelled to share that while I was very interested in this local opportunity, I was also looking at other options since at least one other potential opportunity is now part of the vast google record.

I don’t know where the line is anymore. I remember loving the concept of complete and total honesty in all things when James Halperin’s book  The Truth Machine came out in 1996. I have a signed first edition but you can download a free copy from that link. But now I wonder, where is the line? Can there be too much transparency?