Radical Transparency

I just read a counter-intuitively fascinating article about a brand-new software tool called Eyebrowse – a tool, developed at MIT, which “lets users make their browsing history public.” The tool was not designed as an accountability system (users can selectively choose which parts of their history they want to expose to the world) but rather, as a socially collaborative way to browse the web in public. A way to share your online experiences with your friends, and to make new ones with similar interests. I like it.

But it occurred to me that we could take this concept even further.

I would like to develop a new tool. I would call it:

Openize”: a radically transparent tool for using the internet.

I am envisioning a product which would be similar to CovenantEyes, only more so. CovenantEyes lets me share my web history with one or two closely trusted friends. The Openize product would record my history in the same way, but would make it publicly available to anyone and everyone: my wife, my children, my boss, my pastor, my mom, my entire world. No blocks. No white-lists. No deletions. Radical honesty about what I read, where I go, and who I am. Times. Dates. Search-terms. Eye-tracking. You name it. And I don’t want just a list. I want a graphically interactive dashboard that would provide visual aggregation and unlimited deep-dive inspection of my entire web-surfing history, from this moment forward, made freely available to anyone who cares to look.

Imagine it: Everyone would be able to see exactly how long I spend on FaceBook. Or which articles in Reddit I’m drawn to. Or where I go late at night. No masks, no lies, no hypocrisy. There have been so many commentators lately decrying the loss of privacy in our society. But I say: embrace openness. For the vast majority of history, people have lived in small communities without ANY privacy. And for the most part (except for those who lived under despotic regimes), they thrived. Of course, that would be a lot scarier in a country where righteousness was outlawed by a corrupt government. But the reality is, we are only a few years away from technological advancements that will enable governmental invasions of our privacy that are orders of magnitude more intrusive than anything we have yet seen. Gnat-sized drones that can spy in our bedrooms have probably already been invented. So we might as well live as if it has already begun.

But I digress. I’m not recommending this strategy as a deterrent to the NSA. And by no means am I suggesting that this type of openness should be mandatory for everyone. I’m just saying that if the tool was available, I would be first in line to volunteer for it. WHY?

Because I want to be FREE.

Free to be WHO I AM in front of the whole world. Free to leave a legacy – a trail in the forest that others can follow. Free to stand boldly before all who care to look, and say “Here I stand. I can do no other.” If I ever succeed in life – if I become the man that God wants me to be – I want my descendants to be able to freely trace all the footsteps that led me to victory. On the other hand, if I crash and burn, I want them to be able analyze my mistakes with spotlights and microscopes, in the hope that they might avoid my missteps. But in any case, I don’t want to hide anything. I don’t want to be a pretender.

So who’s with me? Would you be willing to take the plunge, to rip off the covers? To boldly stand with the Apostle Paul and say “I will not be like Moses, who put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the fading glory” (2 Cor 3:13). To discover the power of living in Radical Transparency?

I should point out that I don’t have a tool like this. I don’t know if one exists, and I don’t yet have the technical savvy to build one myself. But I want it. And I want to know: if it were available, would you buy it? Would you use it? Will you help me build it?

Our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power… You know how we lived among you… And you became imitators of us(1 Thess 1:5-6; emphasis added)
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