Group information management is a way of describing the methods and processes used by people to keep individual identities in a public space. This idea grew out of personal information management, which covers the ways people keep private information from becoming public in an increasingly technological society. There are a wide range of technical and sociological issues covered by these methods, and as these areas advance, the methods change with them. While these management systems are commonly found in business, the basics of group information management permeate most developed countries.
The concept of personal information management is central to the group version. This concept became more important in the later part of the 20th century when an increasingly large amount of information became available over the Internet. People began to see the necessity of safeguarding private and sensitive information all while using it in more and more places.
Since these ideas came up so fast, the original methods of safeguarding information were extremely strict. So much information was locked down that the average person had difficulty sharing even small amounts of data. As users pulled away from extreme security, a movement began to keep some information private, some information available in limited settings and some information public. This was the initial formation of group information management.
The centerpiece of group information management is smart security. Users have the ability to influence what personal information is available and who is able to access it. For example, a user will undoubtedly keep important identification and account numbers out of the public, but more common information such as a phone number or birthday is available to people who want to know it.
As these principles have evolved, new systems have come up to take advantage of them. Social networking and dating sites allow people to share a wide variety of information safely. The user may post pictures or personal information, but, more important things, such as email addresses, are hidden and handled through the website. By using these systems, email may be exchanged, but the user doesn’t have to make that information available unless he or she chooses too.
A common example of group information management is using public calendars in offices. A user may make the business aspects of his or her calendar available for others to see. That way, should someone need to contact the user, it is easy to find out if the person is in the middle of something. These applications typically allow workers to mask personal appointments so people will know that the worker is busy, but not why.