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.

Computing

Man pleads guilty to scamming Facebook and Google out of more than $100M

One of the men behind an elaborate fraud that saw Facebook and Google each hand over tens of millions of dollars has admitted to his part in the scheme. Lithuanian Evaldas Rimasauskas faces up to 30 years in a U.S. jail.
Mobile

Apple's iOS 12.2 brings support for Apple News Plus and new AirPlay 2 features

After months of betas, the final version of iOS 12 is here to download. The latest OS comes along with tons of new capabilities, from grouped notifications to Siri Shortcuts. Here are all the features you'll find in iOS 12.
Mobile

More than a screenshot: How to record the screen on an Android device

If you've ever want to record video of your Android screen, there are plenty of apps that can help. Here's an easy guide on how to record the screen on an Android device with the right settings and apps.
Smart Home

These best outdoor security cameras will keep porch pirates at bay

Worried about porch pirates stealing your packages, or intruders entering your home? Always be in the know about who or what is on your property by installing one of these outdoor security cameras.
Gaming

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.
Mobile

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Product Review

HP’s gem-cut Spectre x360 15 is the most powerful 2-in-1 you can buy

HP’s 2019 Spectre x360 15 brings this massive 2-in-1 up to speed, literally. It now equips the same six-core Intel CPU as the rest of the 15-inch field, along with a real GPU for some 1080p gaming.
Computing

Ditch the background from your photos with these handy editing tools

Need to know how to remove the background from an image? Whether you prefer to use a premium program like Photoshop or one of the many web-based alternatives currently in existence, we'll show you how.
Computing

Yes, you can use Android apps on your Chromebook. Here's how

You can now get Android apps on your Chromebook! Google has enabled the Google Play Store app support on its Chrome OS and Chromebook hardware, so to get you started, here's our guide on how to get Android apps on a Chromebook.
Computing

Zipping files on a Chromebook? Follow these four easy steps

Chromebooks support file compression, though they work a little differently than on Windows or Mac. Here's the step-by-step process to zipping files on a Chromebook, and then unzipping them again for extraction.
Computing

Tired of all that white? Here's how to change the Google background image

Did you know that you can change how your Google search home page looks? It's a simple process to pick a new theme: We'll show you how to change your Google background, what to look for in themes, and how to download your own pictures for a…
Deals

These big, beautiful BenQ gaming monitors are on sale on Amazon right now

All gamers know that a good monitor is just as important as PC hardware to fully enjoy what today's games have to offer. BenQ makes some of the best (including some of our favorites), and three top-rated BenQ gaming monitors are on sale on…
Deals

The best Raspberry Pi 3 kits for coders, gamers, and DIY projects

The Raspberry Pi 3 is a low-budget computing platform capable of doing just about anything. We rounded up a handful of the best Raspberry Pi 3 bundles to get you started on a variety of DIY projects.
Computing

Need a portable workstation? One of these two 15-inch laptop might do the trick

HP's Spectre x360 15 is the most powerful 2-in-1 around, but it faces stiff large-laptop competition. Can it beat out powerful clamshells like well-built Apple MacBook Pro 15?