The 4 Ps of the Internet: Personal, Private, Professional, and Public


I often hear the challenge of using the social internet as struggling with the balance of social (or personal) information and professional information. This never seemed to frame the issues correctly for me. Was it really one or the other?

So I started thinking about the 4 Ps: Personal, Private, Professional, and Public.

These seemed to be the terms that most people talked about. Many people struggle with the balance of what information they make available on the internet. Some of this was information published through personal choice. Some of this was information published because it is public information.

If you are a professional, you are marketing yourself and want some of your professional career public. Conversely, there are aspects of your social life that you want to be private. But there are many personal things you would want to be public and some professional things that you would want to be private. There was a struggle with balance, but was it really one against the other.

So I sat down with the 4 Ps and tried to draw out my thoughts to see if I could change this analysis. I came up with this drawing:


There is the balance of professional versus personal and another balance of private versus public. With any item of information you need to evaluate which area it falls into. Public and professional information is in the green zone and can go right out there. Meanwhile the personal and private information is in the red zone and you want to hold on tight to it.

So what goes in the yellow zone? An example for me is my kids. I often talk about The Son and The Daughter, but rarely use their actual names. I put up a few pictures of them but in more limited location.

What about the orange zone? I am sure everyone has some black marks in their professional career that they want to keep out of the public eye. (Not me of course!) If you are a lawyer and have a disciplinary action against you, that may be public knowledge. You may not want to publicize it. (Avvo does!)

What do you think of this analysis?