Posts about privacy

Facebook’s identity opportunity – or somebody’s

Facebook has the chance to turn a problem — negative publicity about its latest privacy shifts and confusion about how to control them — into a business opportunity: It could become the protector of your identity instead of a threat to it. That’s a service we need.

Imagine if Facebook started a new and independent arm to take your side in any question about identity and privacy on Facebook — the ID equivalent of Google’s Data Liberation Front. This group’s job would be to simplify all the obfuscation that is confusing every Facebook user I know about how and where their data will be used and shared: create simple tools with simple rules and explanations and execute our wishes for us. That alone would help Facebook’s relationship with us today. If Facebook wants us to trust our identities to Facebook, then it better take that mission seriously.

Now imagine that Facebook does such a good job of that — turning its rumbling PR problem into a new asset — that we ask it to bring this service elsewhere on the web, helping us determine and decide what’s shared about me on the internet: what I share about me, what others share about me, what others can see of me, and how I can manage that.

I see a new identity dashboard over the web that lets me see how I’m seen and then adjust and publish as I choose — not just shutting down (which is what happens when people get overwhelmed with privacy control issues — even Leo Laporte is doing that) but also deciding what we want to make public (because I argue there is value in publicness).

Mind you, I am not publishing all the things that add up to me through Facebook, nor will I ever. I publish my identity every day all over the web; that is what Facebook should help me manage. Identity is distributed. So, as I argued here, I should control this on my own but I need help managing it. Current tools — ClaimID and such — are as difficult to use as Facebook’s privacy control and are ineffective.

There’s also a service waiting to happen to verify identity. Twitter does that for celebs; why not for all of us?

Facebook could do all this. Because it already has the tightest link to our identities online, it should do this. I’d argue it should do this to turn its relationship with us and our identities on its axis: rather than being accused of exploiting our identities, it should regain our trust — and value — by becoming our best protector, our ID agent.

Google could also do that. This might be a way for it to leapfrog Facebook in the identity and social front: help us organize not the world’s information but our information. The Google profile page becomes not something that lives on Google but something Google enables us to manage.

Even the Post Office could do this. Way back when, it proposed becoming an identity verification service. I know from my little bit of work with folks in the area that the USPS is certainly looking for new ways to bring value (read: new reasons to exist).

Startups could do this. As I tell my entrepreneurial students, whenever you see a problem, look for the opportunity in it. In all the yammering and schwitzing about Facebook and privacy and identity, it’s easy to see a big need and opportunity. Facebook should see it; others can, too.

Privacy, publicness & penises

Here is video of the talk I gave at re:publica 2010 in Berlin on The German Paradox: Privacy, publicness, and penises. (Don’t be frightened by the first moments in German; it’s just an introduction and a joke — with fire extinguisher — about how I had threatened to Hendrix my iPad on the stage in Berlin.)

My subject is all the more relevant given this week’s letter to Google with privacy czars in a handful of countries trying to argue that Google Streetview taking pictures in public violates privacy. In my talk, I argue that what is public belongs to us, the public, and efforts to reduce what’s public steals from us. Journalists should be particularly protective of what is public; so should we all. (The czars also argued, amazingly, that Google shouldn’t release betas. They come, you see, from an old world of centralized control — and the myth that processes can be turned into products, finished, complete, even perfect — instead of the new world of openness and collaboration.)

With so much discussion — even panic — about privacy today, I fear that we risk losing the benefits of publicness, of the connections enabled by the internet and our interconnected world. If we shift to a default of private, we lose much and I argue that we should weigh that choice when we decide what to put behind a wall — and there are too many walls being build today. But we’re not discussing the benefits of the public vs. the private. I want to spark that discussion.

I use Germany as a laboratory and illustration of the topic not only because I was there but because they have something nearing a cultural obsession on the topic of privacy. What’s true there is true elsewhere, including the U.S., though only to a different level. I also only skim the surface of the topic in this video; there is so much more to talk about: how publicness benefits the ways we can and now must do business; how it affects government; how it alters education; how it changes our relationships; how young people bring a new culture that cuts across all national boundaries and expectations; how it multiplies our knowledge; how it creates value; how it leads to a new set of ethics; and much more. But that’s for another time and medium.

In the talk, this all leads up to the Bill of Rights in Cyberspace, which is really about openness and protecting that.

At the end of my time on stage, I invited the room to continue the discussion next door in the sauna, Four guys did show up. Here’s the proof.

If you prefer, here is are my slides with the audio of my talk and discussion, thanks to Slideshare:

The coverage of the talk in German media amazes me. It made the front page of three papers and coverage in more and a prime-time TV show plus radio. Coverage included Welt Kompakt and Welt, Welt again, Berliner Zeitung, Berliner Zeitung again, Zeit Online covers the talk, then Zeit feels compelled to respond and start a reader-debate, Spiegel, the German press agency, the Evangelical News Service, Berliner Morgenpost, Berliner Morgenpost again, Bild, Taggespiegel, taz, taz again, taz again, Berliner Kurier, Berliner Kurier again, 3sat, Süddeutschezeitung, BZ, Frankfurter Rundschau, business magazine WirtschaftWoche, L’Express in France, ORF TV in Austria, and more than one blog. And today add der Freitag. A week later comes an interview in the Berliner Zeitung.

Coverage of my re:publica talk

And here is a slice of an illustration of my talk by AnnalenaSchiller.com (who tweeted beforehand about having to draw a penis for the first time in her talk-illustration career) that appeared in the German paper Der Freitag this week:

derFrietag re re:publica

Yet more: Here’s an interview with dctp.tv in Berlin that summarizes my views:

: LATER: Penelope Trunk, who lives in public, writes: ” The value of your privacy is very little in the age of transparency and authenticity. Privacy is almost always a way of hiding things that don’t need hiding.. . . And transparency trumps privacy every time. So put your ideas in social media, not email.”

: AND: I just got a message on Facebook from the woman I talk about in the Sauna in Davos, the one I said was an American freaked by the mixed, nude crowd of sweaty Russians and me. She thought it was quite funny … especially because she’s French (living in America).

The German privacy paradox

As a group, Germans are more private than anyone I know. My German grandfather-in-law used to lecture me: “People do not need to know that.” Germans complain about Google Streetview taking pictures of them … in public. They’re going after Facebook on privacy. They say that Google Analytics violates privacy. They even enable convicted killers to expunge their names from Wikipedia out of privacy. And now they’re up in arms about airport body scanners.

Yet go into a German sauna, and there the Germans are, male and female, together, sweaty and naked. Germans protect the privacy of everything but their private parts.

I do think we have something to learn from their sauna attitude. On my last trip to Germany, I got addicted to the sauna — no, not to gawk and, since my surgery, certainly not to show off anything (as I’ve revealed, I’m in a chronic state of shrinkage, or should I say, Sternage?). When I first visited a German sauna, I had the surprise Americans have and just decided to go with the flow: When in München….

But when I was in a Davos sauna (a very cool one in a log cabin outside the hotel) with a bunch of sweaty and naked Russians, the door opened and an American couple almost came in, until the wife saw me and shrieked (I do hope it wasn’t for the reason above). She slammed the door and pulled out and we heard her husband pleading, “No, really, it’s OK, honey. Yes, it’s supposed to be co-ed.” She came in after all, hermetically wrapped in her towel (a violation of German sauna etiquette) and sitting as stiff as a church lady, looking only at the ceiling. It was not relaxing for her. I suspect it was not going to be a relaxing evening for her husband, either.

So what’s the more mature attitude about privacy and publicness and the body? I’ll vote with the Germans on this. And that makes me ask why what’s private is private — a question worth asking as we hear so much about privacy in the internet age. One way to pose this question is to ask what harm could come from something private becoming public.

Start with the Germans: What’s the harm of being naked — especially when everyone else is? As I’ve written here before: In the company of nudists, no one is naked (I’m still trying to convince my editor thats a book title). So you have breasts and I have a penis. Surprise, surprise, surprise. Perhaps you could blackmail me because of the current state of mine, but when I went to a public sauna in Munich, I saw every possible body flaw. Even the Germans know there’s no harm in revealing one’s body.

What’s the harm that can come from revealing something else about oneself, as adults fear young people are doing in excess in Facebook and the web? The issue, I’ve long said, is not privacy but control: We have a right to control our information and how it’s used. But all this talk about privacy could make us withhold more than ever; it could make us downright antisocial. So I’ll ask again, what harm will come from publicness? Where’s the line?

* I don’t want to reveal anything about myself that robs someone else of their control of their privacy. So even though my current state of things may be obvious, I’m not going to talk about my sex life because that would violate my wife’s privacy. I wouldn’t make all my email or phone conversations public — as if anyone should care — for the same reason. I should pull no one into my glass house.

* I’m hinky about revealing what I make – most of us are. But why? I suppose I fear someone trying to scam me or beg me for money. But teachers don’t make much. You can easily find out what professors at CUNY earn since, if you live in New York, you’re paying me (up to $90k is the answer). I’ve revealed what I make from my blog (average of about $15k). For some reason, the publishing industry likes to leak what is paid for book advances. I reveal my consulting and speaking gigs. So you could probably come close to guessing my income. I have no reason to publicize it but I also am not sure what the harm is.

* I don’t want to reveal anything that would enable someone to steal my identity for financial ends or to impersonate or attack me or my familiy. So, of course, there’s no gain to be had and much harm to be gained from revealing passwords, account numbers, addresses, and the like.

* No one wants to be embarrassed and so we don’t want to reveal embarrassing things. But who to say what’s embarrassing? It comes out of our fear of what others will think of us. So others do. As a journalist, I’m embarrassed to make mistakes, but I’ve had to learn in blogging and Twitter that correcting mistakes enhances credibility. It’s not the mistake that matters but what you do about it. And, yes, the argument is made that young people will regret putting their drunken party pictures online when it comes time to apply for a job. But I say that as we shift generations, the bosses will have their own embarrassing party pictures and they will find themselves in a state of mutually assured humiliation. In What Would Google Do?, I hope that this stand-off might yield a more tolerant society.

What else? Is it possible to say that anything else is fair game for public sharing? Put that way, and it smacks of exhibitionism: My life is an open blog. So I prefer to turn the question around now and look at the benefits of publicness that we lose when we make something unnecessarily private. I’ve said that revealing my prostate here brought me great value: support, links to sources of information, incredibly candid and helpful previews from patients who’ve gone before, and the opportunity to spur others to check for the disease. Without revealing my cancer in public, I’d have received none of that benefit. I also argue in WWGD? that there’s value in the aggregation of our knowledge: if we all chronicled what we were doing 24 hours before the onset of my other condition, heart arrhythmia, would doctors find new patterns? If we all shared and could analyze our repair records for our Toyotas, would we surface dangerous flaws earlier? Not revealing such data may indeed someday be seen as antisocial.

So the Germans inspired me to ask about the line between private and public and why it’s there: merely cultural convention or self-interested reason? Fear or legitimate concern? And what is the cost of privacy?

They also inspired me to come home and try to install a sauna.

[Photo: mag3737]

: LATER: In the comments, Howard Weaver nacks me for saying “merely cultural convention.” I didn’t mean to belittle but to separate whether the cause of a convention is purely cultural or whether here are practical reasons (e.g., women in some culture hide their laughs out of convention but there’s nothing obvious bad that is going to happen to you if it is seen; but someone taking my credit card data can have real impact).

The more important point I meant to emphasize is that, of course, decisions about what’s properly private and public often are cultural and it’s fascinating — using the Germans and their saunas as a starting point — to examine those differences and use that to make us question our own assumptions. In the comments also a Scandanavian points out that there, you can indeed look up what your neighbor makes

: The other point I should make is about those body scanners. Some say that it’s different choosing to take off your clothes in a sauna vs. being denuded in a machine. Yes, but my point is that if we all as a culture saw exposing our (formerly) privates as no big deal, there’d be less of a hubbub about using the machines and perhaps we’d be safer as a result. In the U.S., we giggled about the guy with the bomb in his underwear. That embarrassed laughter could, in the extreme, cost lives.

Similarly, at Davos, I spoke as a patient at a dinner about prostate cancer and I said that our skittishness about talking about things having to do with the penis (or fingers up our asses) is keeping men from the doctors and killing some of them. Privacy can kill.

When Google’s the library, who’s the librarian?

PaidContent says it’s a false alarm that Viacom will get personally identifiable information on our video viewing from YouTube and Google as part of its self-destructive lawsuit. Nonetheless, the episode has sparked the question I pose in the headline: When Google becomes our library, who acts as the librarian to protect our privacy as a matter of principle?

And what is the principle? Any site with content — Google, Amazon, a newspaper, a blog, an ISP — is now the moral equivalent of a library or bookstore, two institutions that try hard not to hand over information on what content we seek and consume arguing that that would violate our First Amendment rights. The controversy in the telco immunity legislation is that those searches were made without warrants. In this case, there is a warrant. When I ran sites, we got subpoenas all the time and handed over IP addresses when ordered; that was company policy. I always found it troubling and as a result ordered that we would change our data retention policy and get rid of IP addresses as soon as possible. Should Google and other sites erase IPs and rely only on cookies without personally identifiable information?

I say all this more as a question than as a statement. Viacom could have just as easily gotten our addresses and account names. Even as blind as Viacom is to the new reality — the suit itself is the proof of that — they realized, as PaidContent points out, that getting our personal viewing information would have turned them into a corporate peeping-tom pariah. So what is the principle and the law in your view? What should they be? And what are the practical tactics we should expect content sites to take? Should I be erasing my logs? Is that pointless because Google Analytics has them too? What gives?

: LATER: Bob Wyman adds in the comments:

PaidContent was spun… They are wrong. Viacom claims that they will receive no “personally identifiable information” because they managed to get the judge to accept that “login id is a pseudonym … which … ‘cannot identify specific individuals’” (See pages 13-14 of the ruling). The judge granted Viacom’s demand to receive “all data from the Logging database” — including login id.

I don’t know about you, but I sure think my Google “login id” does a pretty good job of identifying me…

:UPDATE: the Journal has a good July 4 story outlining how Google is trying to get Viacom to agree to scrubbing personally identifiable information out of the data because of the uproar over it.

We need a principle as we have one governing the ethics and if possible the behavior of bookstores and libraries. Google is the library.

Really public health

I signed up for Google Health and immediately found it handy with news about each of my conditions. My wife wondered why anyone would use it and risk health data becoming public.

But my life is already an open blog and I’ve already talked about most of my conditions — mainly atrial fibrilation — and received benefit for it: support, links, resources, others’ experiences.

So why not talk publicly about our health? Fear. We fear losing a job or not getting insurance or, with certain conditions, being stigmatized. That is what we should address. With universal insurance and laws to prevent discrimination on health, we’d have no need to fear. Stigma, I can’t do much about.

There are other benefits accruing if we talk publicly. The more we share experience and create data, the more doctors can learn about our conditions and perhaps what causes them. The more we support each other, the more helpful it is for each of us (see Patients Like Me).

Do I trust Google with my health information? Do I trust you? The key is to make sure that I have control over my data. Just as with Facebook, control is the issue.

: Just as I finished writing this, I see that Fred Wilson agrees. Note that his father and I have shared our afib experience and I found it very helpful.

Davos08: What happens in Davos stays in Davos?

I continue to wonder whether off-the-record can work anymore.

At a closed Davos session, I witnessed a bizarre anti-American meltdown by a government official. It went on for sometime before I finally had it and called this person on it, saying that the rant was anti-American and that I was offended. I’m not telling you anything more — including what else I said — so as not to identify the official because the session was off the record, as I was firmly reminded by a WEF person and as the moderator reminded the room five seconds after the event (which is to say that they knew this was newsworthy). The rule is clear and I’m respecting it.

But the next day, the official’s outburst was the topic du jour among all the dozens of people at the meeting and they talked about it with more people. And all those people are powerful: journalists, media executives, business titans, government officials. So the off-the-record rule is no shield for a brain fart. The people who witnessed it could and very well may affect that official’s career.

The argument for making things off-the-record is that participants will feel freer to talk and to be candid. And that seems to make sense. But at a place like Davos, you’re still talking among people who can affect policy, business, brand, media, and careers. And they talk. Just because it’s not in the press or on blogs doesn’t mean such a lapse won’t have an impact.

Now add to this the live nature of media today. Someone could have broadcast that moment live or Twittered it as it happened. No one in that room did or likely would because we all want to be invited back to Davos. Yes, that motivates me to follow the rule. But at any other event that is supposed to be off the record, there is surely someone in the room who won’t care. And once it’s out online, it’s out.

All this is further confused because my own policy is that I am generally on the record — my life is an open blog — unless I label something, which I try to do to be clear and which usually involves someone else’s information or privacy I want to respect. This had an impact on a session I moderated, which fell under the off-the-record cloak. But I said I was on the record and at least one other person piped in and said she is always on as well. Then someone who didn’t pipe up got quoted on a blog (no big deal, by the way). So it’s hard to know who and what are off-the-record nowadays without a scorecard.

Life is simply becoming more public. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Friends forever: The advantages of publicness

I say it’s a good thing that our lives are becoming more public and permanent on the internet. It will keep us closer as people. It might make us more civil and more forgiving as a result.

While we tend to focus on the dangers of losing privacy, for a Guardian column I’m working on, I’d like to examine the benefits of living in public, of publicness.

* * *

Start with the idea that young people today need never lose track of their friends, as I have with most of mine. That’s not only because they will leave bits of themselves online that will be be searchable and findable via Google, but also because they will remain linked in ever-expanding social networks, like Facebook, that connect them to their friends’ friends back through their own histories online.

Like everyone today — come on, admit it — I have Googled old friends and girlfriends. But at my age, that’s frustrating, since so few of my contemporaries have left visible Google shadows. I’ve found nothing for my high-school and college friends. So in January, 2003, I blogged a post listing a few names, just in case they Googled themselves with ego searches and found my “Google call” to them. Then, some months ago, I got email out of nowhere from my high-school girlfriend, Marki, extolling the wonders of Google. So now, via email, we’ve been catching up by tiny increments for more years than we’ll admit. I asked Marki whether she’d found my Google call or my Google shadow. It was the latter; she hadn’t heard of ego searches and my shadow is, well, bigger than me by now: My life is an open blog. Regardless, I’m delighted to reconnect with her. With each of us on opposite coasts, far away from our Midwestern alma mater and both disinclined to return for reunions, we never would have been able to reconnect without Google. Even so, the odds of making the link were small; it took one of us having a Google life and the other seeking it. I know we’re better off for it.

But for today’s young people, this won’t be so hard. They are all Googleable. They will all have threads connecting them on Facebook and whatever follows. (Alloy says that 96 percent of teens and tweens use social networks; they are now universal.)

So what does that mean to them? First, I think it means that they will maintain friendships and other relationships longer in life. I didn’t. I moved to four schools in three states in both elementary and high school (no, my father got out of the military so we wouldn’t move but then went into sales and we moved). I think that nomadism may have actually helped me. Friends will think this is a punchline but in truth, I was shy and being the new kid eight times forced me to be able to talk to people. But as we moved, I lost touch with almost every friend I had and that is a loss. If I had what young people have today, I could have stayed in touch with many of them or at least been able to track them through life.

I think this will lead to not just longer but better, richer friendships and I hope that is good for the character and good for the society. You’ll know that you can’t just escape people when you move on; you are tied to your past. And you’ll be able to stay in touch and won’t have those awkward moments of trying to catch up on 30 years over a single cocktail or email.

But what about living our lives in public? Yes, it’s possible that they could do one stupid thing in life and it goes onto Google — Google is everybody’s permanent record — and they are humiliated forever. Yes, it’s possible. Google CEO Eric Schmidt jokingly suggests we should be able to change our names and start fresh at age 21.

But I think this will be a matter of mutually assured humiliation: We will all have our moments of youthful indiscretion and we will have to forgive others’ if we want them to ignore ours. I say that could even make us more tolerant. OK, so you inhaled. So did I. Had awful taste in music once? Me, too. Wrote blog posts we’ve regretted? Haven’t we all? Yes, even our politicians’ youthful foibles will be open to the world to see and isn’t it better that we see their fallibility and humanity before they get into office? Isn’t it healthier if they and we don’t pretend they’re anything more than just people and politicians? And isn’t it better for democracy if they are forced to be more transparent?

There are other benefits to living life in public. It pushes us into social acts, into connecting with other people, even in subtle ways. When Flickr began, cofounder Caterina Fake has said, they made the fateful and fortunate decision to “default to public,” to go against the presumption and precedent of all the earlier photo services that we would want our pictures to be private. By making them public and by tagging them, we could find others’ photos and other people with shared interests; we could even find friends. Del.icio.us made the same decision about defaulting to public and so our collective bookmarks and tags there yielded greater value together than they did apart; it enabled us to find more content like this and for content to be discovered by more people; it enabled us to — as David Weinberger has explained in his brilliant book, Everything is Miscellaneous — organize information. Publicness allows us to join up to do more together than we could alone.

You see, putting a photo on Flickr or a bookmark on Del.icio.us or a tag on this post so it (and I) can be found in Technorati — and certainly blogging — all become social acts. And encouraging social acts would seem to be a social good.

As I’ve pointed out here before, young people have a different view of privacy and publicness because they realize you can’t make connections with people unless you reveal something of ourself: You won’t find fellow skiers unless you tell the world that you, too ski. I couldn’t find advice and support from people about my heart condition without revealing that I had one. Privacy advocates, as they are so often called, would be appalled that I revealed the most private of my personal information: my health data. But public people will tell you that living in public brings its benefits.

As I’ve also written recently, I think that Facebook has made important refinements on the idea of publicness on the internet by requiring real identity — not the anonymity and pseudonymity that dominate so much of the internet; by enabling us to control that identity and how public it is; and by enabling us to control our communities. We don’t live entirely in public; we decide how public want to be; we control our friendships. As I was researching this post — yes, I do research them, occasionally — I looked up my college girlfriend, who is an academic (a real one, unlike me) and found a review of one of her articles that eloquently summarized this idea of identity and the “crucial liberties” to “represent one’s identity publicly” and to “have a protected private sphere.” That is just what I wanted to explore here. Google kismet. She also posited the liberty to “equal opportunity to influence future generations.” That is about the purpose of living in public: the public as the political. You can’t change the world unless you’re willing to reveal how you think that should be done.

The issue isn’t so much privacy but, as Doc Searls has been writing, it is control of our identities and our data. Publicness is good so long as we decide how public we want to be.

* * *

So look at the benefits of publicness: We can maintain richer friendships longer. We may be more careful to act civilly in public. We may become more forgiving of others’ lapses of civility and sense in the hopes that they will forgive ours: the golden rule of the social life online, I hope. We can make connections with people with shared interests and needs. We act more socially. We find we can do more together than apart. We invest in and protect our identities and communities. We organize and act collaboratively to improve this world. Yes, there are risks to publicness and to losing privacy. But the benefits of life in the public are great. That is what my private peers do not realize but what the young public understands in their souls.

How personal should a blog be?

I apologize, blog friends, for having been silent since Wednesday night, when our family lost my brother-in-law, Steven Westmark, to a sudden and tragic heart attack.

I almost turned off the comments on this post, which may seem rather odd. But I know that you all would offer my family condolences, and if you do so in the comments and emails, I’ll feel guilty not responding to each of you with thanks. Your sympathies are assumed and accepted as are my thanks in return. But that’s not why I’m writing this post.

What has puzzled me these last few days is what I should or should not write about this and how personal this blog or any blog really is.

I often tell people that the best blog posts come when you see, read, hear, experience, or decide something and think, ‘I should tell my friends about that.’ Your friends, of course, are your readers.

There were many such moments in the last week. If this were fully personal, I’d be chronicling our debate about whether to be angry at God or kill him; the impressive maturity I’ve seen emerge from young people in the midst of trauma; the social and manipulative business of funerals; and even the media story of charging the bereaved $400 to share their news and grief (where is the craigslist of obituaries? perhaps it should be craigslist).

But I’m not doing any of that because it would, I believe, be an intrusion on my family’s privacy. I’m not doing it for their sake.

But for my sake? My life is an open blog. Sharing these moments and the context they give to other thoughts is what I do now. It is reflex. Or that’s what I’ve discovered in this time.

This isn’t unlike my days as a columnist in San Francisco in the late ’70s. I constantly had the column on my mind and when I saw or thought something column-worthy, I’d store it away like a nut in a tree until I could publish it. But that was more opportunistic. That was about filling a space six days a week. That made experiences a commodity to be exploited.

A blog is different. Pardon me for restating the overstated, but it’s a conversation, a conversation among friends. It’s different from publishing. And, of course, it’s personal: one person talking among others. And so privacy has a different impact. That’s a lesson young people teach us often these days in their attitudes toward privacy online: In this conversation, you can’t get something in return if you don’t give something of yourself. And in this case, I don’t mean the return of condolences. I mean the return of experiences and ideas and viewpoints. I can’t get those from you, which I value, if I don’t give something myself first: my experiences, my thoughts, and the context for them. It’s personal, a blog.

Sometime later, I may well have that conversation about killing God. And I think I will contemplate the impact of someone disrupting the obit market. But not now.

Now I’ll just say that personally, I miss Steve greatly. He was a magnificent uncle to my children. No one in our family understood kids like he did; there’s a special smile only he could bring to their faces. He was a wonderful brother to my wife and a generous brother-in-law to me. He was a great husband, father, brother, and son. Steve was a devoted Deadhead, a talented builder, great fun, one of a kind.