Confidentiality: It’s Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

Posted on July 8, 2009


The Eberron logo

The Eberron logo

Many of you are aware that personal branding is the new job application, and that social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs) is the new resume. Social media is the latest marketing “good idea,” and if you want to market yourself (and you should; careers may be permanent but jobs are not) then you have to put yourself out there in social media.

I was thinking about that this morning while I wrote some Dungeons & Dragons material for a game that I run every other Friday night (3.5 rules, for my fellow gamer geeks). It’s important that I show that gaming is part of my personal brand, and not just say that it is. So I should write about what I’m doing with Dungeons & Dragons. Except that I’m a good marketer, and I use tags with this blog, and I Tweet about it, and I post on Facebook about it, so my players are going to be aware of my blog posts. I don’t want to give away information about the game early. I like to surprise them – hopefully in good ways. I like to build suspense and mystery as a GameMaster/DungeonMaster/Storyteller. I like to keep them off-balance.

While I was thinking about what I could and could not write, I realized that I had a confidentiality issue. In my personal life, yet! Now, it’s entirely possible that I’m over-sensitive to confidentiality issues. I had a security clearance when I was in the Army (Secret? Top Secret? I don’t remember). I was an advocate, in the early days of Wizards of the Coast, for increased security. When I left the company, there were some confidentiality issues on the table. I’ve contracted for Microsoft through Volt, and security/confidentiality were huge issues there. Even in my work at Pearson Education, I treat all student/teacher information as highly confidential, and vigorously protect the secrecy of state testing methods and results.

Let’s face it, confidentiality is a huge issue all the time. Whether you call it national security, non-disclosure, or right to privacy, we all struggle with it all the time. I consider myself fortunate to be sensitive enough to the issue to stop myself from posting story details from my game where anyone can read them. If you’re not one of my players, I’ll be happy to e-mail about it, but I won’t post.

I know: There’s no big reveal or valuable insight there. I just thought it was faintly ridiculous to be writing Dungeons & Dragons for personal use, and see a confidentiality issue. Clearly, as we try to develop and market our personal brands, we all face decisions about what to share and how much. I recently attended an event where one of the speakers strongly encouraged everyone to link all their social media networks together, and a woman in the audience raised a concern about sharing her address. Women have concerns about personal safety that, frankly, don’t occur to most men. The speaker’s advice was that, rather than posting an address and then hiding it with a privacy setting, just don’t post it at all. That’s an example of deciding not to share something as part of your personal branding efforts. Once it’s on the Internet, it’s out there – which is exactly why I’m not going to post about D&D and then try to hide it from part of my network. Although I don’t have any personal safety concerns related to gaming!

Oh, and for the record: So far today I’m just doing stat blocks. Once I have those prepped, I’ll move on to writing encounters.