Limiting Access: Flickr and Archiving Our Children’s Lives


I’ve been pretty open about sharing our lives online. I regularly post photos on flickr, videos on vimeo, post updates to twitter and facebook and even blog here (on this blog and our family blog “Weird Fishes”) and there about what’s going on with our family. But It’s been an uneasy tension for me. How much of my personal life should be online, how much, and what should remain more-or-less anonymous. For instance, when our daughter was born (almost two years ago?!) we had decided we wouldn’t use her real name online so I posted her full name in an image so friends could get a glimpse, left it on the blog for a day, and then removed the image so Google couldn’t pick up the text. So even though our daughter, who simply goes by ‘L’ on the web, is online in a lot of places, her name doesn’t appear in search engines (so far). I think that’s great, but as she’s getting older, and as our second daughter is due to be born in the next month I’ve been thinking even more about scaling back.

Then after reading the article “Guardians of Their Smiles” in the NY Times we decided to change the privacy settings on our family photos on flickr. It used to be just a site for photos that I took but more and more it is just photos of our family, so I feel that the added privacy is not a bad idea. In the article a woman using flickr to post photos of her daughter discovered that her daughter’s photos were being used in a malicious way on another social networking site.

Now, I am no alarmist and I am not about to get all privacy this and that on you, but I appreciated the question my friend

Photo on 2009-09-07 at 09.50 #5

Fernando put to me on twitter: “it’s about giving  people control over their “digital destiny.” How will the stuff we post  hit our kids future relationships?” And this is really it for me. Not only do we not know what it’s like to have our entire lives archived online, we are the ones choosing what to post and what not to post for the public. As I described above, I wrestle with how much to hold back, and how much to announce to the world. I don’t have other people posting my life online for me as many parents (including yours truly) do these days. So I think it’s not a bad idea to slow down, reflect on the questions at hand, and consider limiting family-sharing stuff to friends and family.I think it’s fine to post some things publically, as I’ve shown here with the photo above, so I’m really thinking more in terms of something like flickr acting more like an archive than shared note here and there. I’ll leave the archiving up to my daughters when they’re ready to do it themselves (Lord knows Google’s got a nice archive on me).

What do you think? How have you navigated these questions?