MediaGuardian's digital media columnist Jeff Jarvis has written an opinion piece today about why he revealed on his blog that he had prostate cancer.
Jarvis admits he risks becoming "merely a medical and emotional exhibitionist" and has "violated my own privacy to an extreme" but he makes much wider points about the benefits of openness and transparency on the web.
He writes: "By revealing my cancer, I realise benefits, and so can society: if one man's story motivates just one more who has the disease to get tested and discover it, then it is worth the price of embarrassment. If many people who have a condition can now share information about their lifestyles and experience, then perhaps the sum of their data can add up to new medical knowledge. I predict a day when to keep such information private will be seen by society as being selfish.
"Collectively, we will use the internet's ability to gather, share and analyse what we know to build greater value than we could on our own. That is the principle of transparency that I want companies and governments to heed: that openness in their information and actions must become their default, that holding secrets only breeds mistrust and robs them and us of the value that comes from sharing.
"I believe this openness at the source will become a critical element in a new, linked ecosystem of news, as institutions and individuals will be expected to provide maximal information on the web. Such open intelligence also allows an unlimited number of watchdogs on those in power, helping to bring about a new, collaborative – and ultimately, I hope, more effective and efficient – system of journalism.
"So for me, transparency is a necessary ethic of the age. That is why I used my medium, my blog, to share my prostate cancer. If I believe in the value of publicness, how could I not?"
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