There is something testing about putting your thoughts in writing, especially in public. The discipline of being forced to consider “Is this really what I think?. What will people’s response be when they see what I think? What will the consequences be when they see what I think? Will I be OK with that?” This self scrutiny is a good thing.

I was asked recently to sign an NDA (non disclosure agreement) and as usual responded that, to me, being asked to sign such a piece of paper indicates a lack of trust. It is hardly worth the paper it is written on in terms of regulating my behaviour. However the social web does. Particularly for those of us who live much of our lives online. We are very accountable. If we mess up, or do something reprehensible, any criticism of us will be immediately visible online and will therefore have an immediate effect on our reputation. I believe that, over time, this accountability brings with it an increased integrity. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

This is true not just of individuals but of groups, organizations and society itself. This is the end game for me, seeing an increase in people’s visible and public engagement with life and a consequent improvement in our collective accountability. If we all have our thoughts out there, in writing for all to see, then we will have to think harder about what we are doing and why. This has to be a good thing.

4 thoughts on “Accountability

  1. I often wonder if any lawyers who advocates NDAs has actually secured a judgment against someone violating an NDA. I understand the need to protect precious information and often get told to sit where I can't see certain whiteboards while visiting different companies. I understand where that kind of request comes from and it seems more focused than a blanket NDA.


  2. And you respect it more as a result …In the past when I have signed NDAs I have sat there eagerly awaiting something juicy that might justify them only to be disappointed.


  3. Disclaimer / "if it wasn't intended for you" notices at the bottom of emails always remind me of the famous Japanese hotel notice "Guests are required not to steal the towels. If you are not the kind of person to do such a thing, please do not read this notice."


  4. Broadly agree (STRONGLY agree re NDAs), but remember that not everyone has the luxury of being able to be fully public with their views. We're fortunate if our culture (micro and macro) and way of earning a meager crust do not require us to go stealth. I know people whose lives would be very negatively affected if they were to be publicly associated with their beliefs.


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