After I’d been blathering on at some event about how connecting things up is really but disconnecting them is really hard, someone sent me a link to a story illustrating an amusing case of the unexpected consequences of connectivity. A woman found out her husband was cheating on her with nanny because he had photos and texts on his iPhone, which was linked by iCloud to her iPad.

Gwen Stefani apparently discovered Gavin Rossdale was cheating on her after discovering some explicit texts and photos on the family’s iPad.

[From A guide on how to not let an Apple device ruin your marriage – NY Daily News]

I didn’t know who Gwen Stefani was, so I went off to goggle her on my skyper (as England’s greatest living poet, John Cooper Clarke, would put it) hoping that she might be a junior minister at the Home Office or an executive a technology company, but it turns out she’s a pop singer. Oh well. There’s no reason to expect pop stars to understand Apple’s settings any more than I do, so I put the story to one side. Until this morning, that is.

This morning I went through my browser history to try and find a page about a workshop that I was supposed to be going to. I couldn’t remember the name of the workshop, but I knew I’d been to the web site in the last day or two so I opened up my browser history. And found hundreds of web sites dealing with carpet remnants.

My wife and I are a very traditional couple. We share everything. It’s in our marriage vows. The bank account, the speeding tickets, the browser history. And we don’t have a nanny. So I don’t care about my wife seeing my browser history and she doesn’t care about me seeing hers. The reason I mention this episode though is to make a point: connecting things up is getting progressively easier, but working out who should be able to access what and when and under what circumstances is becoming increasingly complicated.

In fact, I’m tempted to say that it’s becoming so complicated that it will soon be beyond human comprehension. When I take a photo with my iPhone, I already have literally no idea where it will end up, and why some photos show up on my laptop and others don’t is completely baffling. (Although I have noticed that when I actually want to find a photo that I can remember taking a few months ago, I can never find it.)

Today it’s your photos, tomorrow it’s your financial transactions, soon it will be your identity that is unpredictably smeared through the interweb tubes with predictably chaotic results. Time for some thinking about identity partitioning and permissioning: more soon.

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