This page considers individual transparency (which is distinct from organizational transparency) both online and offline. Individual transparency can lead to things like having stalkers (that one can befriend) and being harassed. It can also inspire people, give you a tight feedback loop, or lead to serendipitous discoveries.
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of making information about oneself available online through for example smart phone apps and social media posts?—question inspired by Sebastian Nickel’s Facebook discussion (linked from the question).
In many ways, I try to take an “open by default” approach by e.g. making many of my activity feeds publicly available.
- Public content provides value to readers.
- Transparency is also a meta statement that roughly says “yes, you can share this stuff with other people”; this can be good for getting feedback from a wide array of people (e.g. if you ask someone for feedback, they can forward it to others without having to ask you for permission, since everything is public anyway).
- Transparency can be a way to combat gossip about oneself (see one of the comments by theslittyeye on this post)
- Transparency is one of the results of humility.
- “Why I Prefer Public Conversations” by Brian Tomasik
- Bryan Caplan: “In the social media age, observers tend to equate silence with approval, or at least disinterest.” I agree with Caplan’s observation here; more generally, unless one speaks up in public, there are certain “default positions” that people might assume about you.
- Targeting content to larger audiences (not necessarily the public) might help to make it higher quality or more useful to your future self. See the Facebook post where Vipul Naik outlines this reasoning.
- Gives potential ammunition to fraudsters, enemies, and opponents in arguments. Somewhat related is a post on the Open Borders Action Group about writing an attack piece.
- The argument from observation of elites: e.g. mathematical elites have a small online presence, people tend to become more secretive or measured in their opinions as they acquire resources (?), etc.
- Being transparent requires effort: you probably have to change your workflow to put more things online, spend more time checking over things to make sure they aren’t misleading or easily misinterpreted, and dealing with spurious criticisms.
- The most lucrative opportunities tend to involve signing non-disclosure agreements, working behind closed doors, working as part of a larger team where individual contributions are difficult to discern, etc. (?) Insofar as this is true, being capable of radical transparency is an indicator of not taking up on these opportunities.
- In general I like to write for an audience that is intelligent and charitable, but this obviously will not be the case for all readers of what I write. By writing for the most charitable, one may be making one’s reputation worse in the eyes of those less charitable. See Holden’s post on public discourse for reasons to not downgrade people based on public comments that seem incorrect.
- If one writes up one’s thought as one is still struggling through an idea, one will appear less intelligent.
- By exposing the finer details of how one works, one may appear less “magical” in the eyes of the public. Selectively revealing and concealing information to the public allows one to appear more impressive, so by being more transparent by default, one loses out on that differential status.