There are many cool web sites out on the 'net that let you do fun, interesting and useful things - for free! Among them are Flickr, del.icio.us, and Google Mail. There are many people around the world using these services every day. They post photos to Flickr, they list sites of interest in their del.icio.us bookmarks and they send and receive EMail using Google Mail. And of course, there are blogging sites just about everywhere.
Using these services is like leaving bread crumbs around the 'net leading right back to you. For some, this is the whole reason to use the service. For others, it's just a by-product that they don't care about. For everyone, these bread crumbs define the public persona of the user.
For those of us who are lazy and have the same username on any of the various services we use, it's fairly easy to find threads that tie the bread crumbs together. Even if you use different usernames, many times you want to tie your various sites together. Why wouldn't you want to use some of your Flickr photos in your blog, or at least put a pointer to them in a post? When a reader follows the link, they can see not only what photos you've posted, but any others that you've marked as favorites. It's the same for your del.icio.us bookmarks. You have no reason to save links that you don't find interesting or useful, so the links you do post are clearly of interest to you. What you blog about and how you write about it also tell others about you.
When all of the threads are followed and all of the bread crumbs are collected, an image of the poster begins to appear. Depending on what's out there, the image may be more or less complete and more or less accurate (in real life). However, no matter how accurate, this is your public persona. It follows you around the 'net wherever you go. Am I personally concerned about this? No, not really. Should you be? Perhaps - it all depends on what you say and do (just like in real life). You just need to remember one thing: On the 'net, you are what you post.
Technorati Tags: Privacy, Identity, Google Mail, del.icio.us, flickr