How we act depends on who is watching.
Children act differently around parents. Students act differently around teachers. Employees act differently around bosses.
There's nothing wrong with this. It's human nature.
However, thanks to the exponentiation of technology we are increasingly able to be virtually present in all places all the time. This leads to some tricky situations. For example, something that might seem funny at a party with friends might not seem so funny if someone snaps a pic on their camera phone and posts it online. Because camera phones allow everyone to be "at the party," how is it appropriate for us to behave? And if you think camera phones are bad now, just stick around another fifteen years. You'll have your photo and biometrics snapped faster than you can say say pervasive mobile wireless ad-hoc mesh network.
I believe the solution here is design our social spaces with their own values and mores built in. There have already been several promising early attempts at this. For example, Starbucks works hard to set a certain ambience and climate for discussion. Remember the quotes on the cups that were meant to start conversations?
The genius of Starbucks is that it provides a safe place for teens and adults to hang out in public for the price of a cup of coffee. If anyone is able to out-compete Starbucks it won't be another coffee shop, but rather another "third space" with more compelling values and ethics.
The challenge for web entrepreneurs is two-fold.
First, how do we create compelling third spaces that encourage the desired social interaction? This is especially important since in a world where all platforms offer equally good functionality, users may well choose on the basis of competing values.
Second, how do we communicate the values of these third spaces to outsiders looking back from future? A lot of behavior that may look questionable at first may be perfectly reasonable in its proper context. How do we supply this context?
These questions present huge challenges, but also huge opportunities.