No more secrets: How technology is making honesty the only policy

security camera header privacy honestyMy friends Don Peppers and Martha Rogers just wrote a book called Extreme Trust: Honesty As a Competitive Advantage. The ideas inside it are going to change your life. Their basic premise is that:

Lots of traditional, widely accepted, and perfectly legal business practices just can’t be trusted by customers, and will soon become extinct, driven to dust by rising levels of transparency.

By transparency, they mean that, for example, every interaction through a digital device leaves a record that can later be searched, cross-referenced, duplicated and potentially shared.

This means you leave a trail every time you make a phone call, use an app, visit a website, open a door with a security card, get money from an ATM, text someone, use an EZ Pass-like device to pay a toll, or leave a parking garage.

This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. Digital cameras are everywhere. By one account, Great Britain has almost 4 million permanently mounted security cameras. Smartphones now come with one or two cameras, which means if anything of interest happens anywhere in the world, the odds are someone will record it.

The Looxcie wearable camcorder sits on your ear and records everything that happens in front of you. When something interesting happens, you press a button and save the last 30 seconds.

If Google and others have their way, smartglasses will soon be on the market. These will likely expand significantly the number of events that get recorded automatically.

Nowhere to hide

Social media allows us to share information. If a party is lame, you can warn away friends. If a company screws you, 900 of your close and personal online friends will hear the details.

It used to be that if you drove across town to spend $10 on a movie, there was no record of your actions. Today, there might be 100 data points showing your progress across town and back.

social media button sharing transparencyLike it or not, our lives are being documented and archived, which leaves less and less room for the old-fashioned ways of fudging the truth.

For example, there are businesses that charge you, say, $10 a month for a service. Being busy, you might forget about the service, stop using it entirely, and still get charged $10 a month for years on end. Don and Martha say that’s not right, that companies can see when you stop using a service and they have a self-interest in pointing this out to you.

Their advice is simple and powerful:

1. Do things right.

2. Do the right thing.

3. Proactively.

Let’s consider how this might apply to your life. If you’re a student, you might “forget” to mention a bad grade to your parents, unless they specifically ask, “How did you do on your geography test of April 8?” But with online tools such as Blackboard prevalent, and your friends and your friends’ parents exchanging stories online, the odds are pretty high you will eventually convince your parents that you aren’t trustworthy.

Now imagine that you have a job and your employer decides to implement a quantified approach to your office, meaning that your supervisors now track how long you leave the building at lunch, how many times you say something positive versus negative in meetings, how many suggestions you make each year for improving workflow, and 29 other metrics.

Here’s the problem: Most of us don’t look so good when we quantify our lives. We exercise less than we think, and eat more. We spend more time thinking about work than working hard. We probably have a higher opinion of ourselves than is warranted.

My intention isn’t to depress you. To the contrary, I want to motivate you to take Don and Martha’s advice to heart. Do things right. Do the right thing. Proactively.

No matter how closely your company starts to quantify everything you do, you will be ahead of the pack. Why? Because most people aren’t going to realize that extreme truth has become the new normal until it is too late.

Near the end of their book, the authors include this passage:

Transparency is like a disinfectant for business. It will purify things and help start the healing, but it’s going to sting like hell.

They’re writing about companies, but if you substitute “our lives” for the word “business,” you get the idea.

This weekend, we had some friends over and I listened as my wife recalled some of the decisions we made 10 or 12 years ago: why we decided to move, how we found our new house, etc. On nearly every subject, I thought: That’s not what actually happened.

Human beings are used to living with perceptions of facts, not facts themselves. But in the coming months and years, that’s all going to change. Get ready for extreme truth, because it’s coming fast.

Bruce Kasanoff is a speaker, author and innovation strategist who tracks sensor-driven innovation at Sense of the Future. Kasanoff and co-author Michael Hinshaw teamed up to explore more of the opportunities unearthed by disruptive forces in Smart Customers, Stupid Companies.

[Image credits: Surveillance camera alphaspirit/Shutterstock; Social media button: Lasse Kristensen/Shutterstock]

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Smart Home

Kitchen fires, viral turkeys, family knife fights, and more Thanksgiving fails

If you’re dreading small talk with nosy relatives or fearing you might burn down the house while cooking, we hate to say that your fears might not be unfounded. Here’s a roundup of some of the biggest Thanksgiving fails.

‘Diablo Immortal’ is just the beginning. Mobile games are the future

Diablo fans were furious about Diablo Immortal, but in truth, mobile games are the future. From Apple and Samsung to Bethesda and Blizzard, we’re seeing a new incentive for games that fit on your phone.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Product Review

One look at the Mi 8 Pro, and you’ll wish every phone had a transparent back

Xiaomi has officially launched in the U.K., and its first major device launch is the Mi 8 Pro, a phone that looks quite a bit like the iPhone XS but with a very cool transparent back panel and an in-display fingerprint sensor.

These are the 5 best free antivirus apps to protect your MacBook

Malware protection is more important than ever, even if you eschew Windows in favor of Apple's desktop platform. Thankfully, protecting your machine is as easy as picking from the best free antivirus apps for Mac suites.

These laptop bags will keep your notebook secure wherever you go

Choosing the right laptop bag is no easy feat -- after all, no one likes to second-guess themselves. Here are some of the best laptop bags on the market, from backpacks to sleeves, so you can get it right the first time around.

iPhone users are finding themselves randomly locked out of their Apple ID

According to posts on Reddit and Twitter, it looks like users on Reddit and Twitter having some issues with their Apple accounts. Specifically, it seems as though users are getting randomly locked out of their Apple IDs.

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will update your OG Windows skills

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience.

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step-by-step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.

Don't know what to do with all your old DVDs? Here's how to convert them to MP4

Given today's rapid technological advancements, physical discs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Check out our guide on how to convert a DVD to MP4, so you can ditch discs for digital files.

Here’s how to install Windows on a Chromebook

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so, just in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only…

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.

Edit portraits with A.I. and adjust focus in the new ON1 Photo RAW 2019 editor

ON1 Photo RAW 2019 now has a dedicated tab for portraits that automatically recognizes faces to help with retouching. The update also brings a new focus stacking tool, enhancements to layers, and improvements to local adjustments.

Your MacBook can live in the lap of luxury with this leather case

Though there are several cases which we think are best for covering up MacBooks, Twelve South's Journal case is one of the newest available, providing luxurious leather coverage for your Apple laptop.