This week’s Loose Wire column is about Gmail, Plaxo and privacy:
PRIVACY IS ONE OF those things you either obsess over, or don’t see what all the fuss is about. You’re either someone who gets indignant when a shop assistant asks you for your home address at the checkout, or you’re not. You either hate the idea that your credit card is a mine of information about your shopping habits, or you couldn’t care less.
This debate is timeless, but the Internet and in particular two recent new phenomena have brought it into focus. The first is a crop of on-line networking services that range from automatically updating your contacts’ details, such as Plaxo Inc.’s address-book software to networking Web sites like Friendster and LinkedIn, which allow you to hook up with other users with similar tastes or business interests on-line. The other phenomenon is something called Gmail, the soon-to-be-launched e-mail service from the soon-to-be-listed search-engine company Google.