Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Trusting Generation

The WSJ includes a "Personal Journal" section. (It would be where the sports section of an old fashioned newspaper would be - think about that a little.) "Personal Finance" is the topic of this section each Wednesday.

There is often a techie column in the Personal Journal and one appears today. The techie column is generally entitled "The Mossberg Solution", although it's often written by an apostle of Mr. Mossberg, not the great man himself. This particular column is entitled Tracking Your Money Without Paying a Mint, by Katherine Boehret. Ms. Boehret writes about a new website,, that will help a person track his or her wealth, and it sounds very clever and maybe even useful.

But what strikes me about this site is the amount of personal information - maybe all of one's financial information - that must be linked to it in order for the thing to "work". I am simply amazed at Ms. Boehret's trust in the integrity (and competence in terms of security matters) that she expresses in the site. Somehow the image of sheep being led to the slaughter comes to mind. On the other hand, maybe I'm just over the hill as far as our culture is concerned.

When the internet age was in its relative youth and the matter of putting information "out there" in cyberspace was under discussion, I was surprised when one of my partners, a Harvard grad about 15 years my senior, expressed a great reluctance to join the cyberspace community. It was the matter of security that worried him. He said "I don't want to put another hole in my boat" by going on line with identifying information. I thought that was an interesting metaphor, and instructive.

But by now there is so much information already "out there" about me that the Mint will probably make little difference, unless it is one hole in my boat too many.

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