Two articles I've recently read discuss various aspects of online participation that I found interesting enough to link to. First, Steven Levy wrote an article in January's Wired about the guilt of not posting on one's blog, Twitter, etc., and the off-setting experience or remorse when participating too much, due to concern about revealing too much to the online community.
I've thought about both of these issues, related to both my blog and social networking presence. Personally, I probably hold back a bit more than necessary, with respect to my personal life, opinions, etc. Part of that was a conscious decision about the type of blog I want, and type of experiences I want on Facebook. Part of it is a bit of "who I am," if that isn't too much of a cop-out. A third part is my profession, and a belief, in that vein, that being a bit more conservative in what I post, even when it is more personal, is probably a smart thing.
Frankly, I've been a bit surprised by what some people will post online, regardless of format. On blogs, anyone can access what you've written, and unless you've managed to post completely anonymously, what you've written will follow you as long as it remains online. Legitimate opinions don't pose a problem to me, but other stuff could certainly bite someone if, say, a potential emploer digs around. On social networking sites, I've just been surprised how much people will post about day to gripes, comments about other people their identified friends know, rumors and gossip, etc. Even some of the pictures have surprised me! Maybe I'm just part of the old guard, and a bit too stuffy for this brave new world, but I try to keep things to a point where I don't post anything I might later regret. As a result, I don't worry about this issue nearly as much as the author of the article, but then again, I doubt I have his readership, either.
This article, on the other hand, discusses the issues related to one's online community when a person has dies. No, not their online character, the actual person. As online social networking, gaming, etc. take a more prominent place in many peoples' lives, the death of an individual will increasingly impact others in the online universe, but currently without an easy solution to notify those you have online relationships with. Given security issues, passwords, usernames that don't provide much of a hint to one's actual identity, etc., a person may pass away, with their online friends and acquaintances being left to wonder what happened to their frequnet online companion. Not sure what the technological ramifications of this will be (besides those mentioned in the article), but I'm sure this will be more of an issue as more and more people begin to form various types of relationships on the Internet.