Is Transparency the Same as Humanity?

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Back in late January, Michael Arrington of TechCrunch fame posted a story called Some Things Need to Change where he tells the story of someone spitting in his face at the Digital, Life Design conference in Munich. Now for those of you who don’t know who Michael Arrington is, it is safe to say that he has become famous as a polarizing figure. He takes a position that’s sometimes unpopular to drive a response. TechCrunch, the site he started, is one of the top ten most successful blogs and was run out of his house until recently. It is also safe to say that he most likely did not deserve to have someone spit in his face. His post outlines how his life has changed and his need to take a break from writing.

After Arrington’s post, he took some time off (Feb 2nd to March 2nd) and since then he seems to be avoiding covering start-ups, instead focusing on established online companies and the changes/challenges taking place. I emailed Mr. Arrington twice to see if he wanted to participate in this post in some way. Never heard back.

Many start-ups in Silicon Valley can attribute their success to the coverage provided by TechCrunch and it’s a shame that someone decided they needed to insult Arrington. This is unfortunately a reflection of humanity and the potential outcome of transparency. The benefit of transparency is that we can talk to businesses in a human voice and we can expect the same in return. The issue is that humanity as a whole contains all aspects of what humans are capable of. When you open yourself up online, you can expect just about anything.

As a business or a personal brand you (and your client) need to take this into consideration before you embrace blogging and/or microblogging. How you respond to this should be true to who the business person who’s creating the content with the business’s best interests in mind, because unfortunately, in the end, transparency is the same as humanity.

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I'm an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently focused on artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, biking, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive and/or surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and the art that tattooing has evolved into.

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