if you’re a digital native- that is, generally speaking, 25 or younger- you already take this social web/social network stuff for granted. The social web can be the hard drive of humanity- recording the thoughts and actions of all. But in the process, it’s forcing the acceptance of transparency, and changing how we, or at least the younger “we”, think about our role in society.
There’s a lot of noise about privacy and safety on the web, but we see it in a slightly different way. The idea that your information/your story will always be out there will ultimately result in more acceptance of the full range of experiences that are inherent in being human- for example, if you’re 22 now and look back when you’re 40- the record will reflect that we all try things, do stupid stuff, make mistakes, learn, grow and change- that you cannot deny your past, your present- but it doesn’t define your future. But it will do that for everyone else in your age cohort, so the stigma will be gone.
This force will also dissipate the idea of adopting disparate masks to fool or present yourself as a collection of personae that show up depending on the context you are appearing in (CEO me versus Burner me). This managed/compartmentalized self is a very 80′s idea, or probably older than that- stands in direct opposition to the the reality of you as an integrated and complex being- it will remove secrets, shames, other wastes of energy and preoccupations with packaging the self. That’s already happening.
It ultimately creates more transparency and helps truth get out faster- if you have a lot of friends validating you, and I know your friends, it’s like a mass better business bureau for people. That’s what works about LinkedIn, and Facebook. Who’s vouching for you? In the end, it will be hard to be a fake entitity. The whole social web is the snitch, the betrayer of imposters. People and things alike.
Finally, the social we will be a great integrator of the story of being human- it will show the incredible lie of demographics- illustrating how complex and overlapping our relationships are, how we hold sometimes contradictory opinions, and how our communities, which on the surface would never meet at all, are really very interactive.