This talk goes on my highlights list – amazing content that all social media users should consider.
Privacy, Secrecy, Publicy – Stowe Boyd, Analyst, Advisor, and Futurist (@stoweboyd)
“We have secrecy for secret, privacy for private” but no word for things that are made (or made to remain) public.”
Every paragraph of this talk has a notable quotable. I encourage you to read it and consider what it means to you. It was easy to summarize rather than transcribe, because it was organized very well – the words are mine, but the content entirely belongs to Stowe.
They’re rolling out the Minority Report billboards in Japan that know what you might want to buy. Some people polled thought it was “creepy.” That’s a word that’s frequently used in conjunction with this technology.
“Everyone has three lives: a public life, a private life, and a secret life.” – Gabriel Maria Marquez
“We have secrecy for secret, privacy for private” but no word for things that are make (or made to remain) public. The history of mass communication doesn’t have a paradigm for people eagerly sharing personal information publicly – it was previously a potential embarrassment! Narcissistic. Arrogant.
The difference is that now “publicy” is just hanging out. What’s more creepy – just hanging out and sharing what you did with friends (via social media), or sitting alone in silence watching your television?
Part of the issue is that privacy was typically defined by space – “the notion of body modesty is different in different parts of the world” (i.e., string bikinis v. yarmulke vs. burquas). At least in America, we also have regulations to expose your identity (e.g., illegal to wear a mask in Virginia), while also protecting your privacy (e.g., from strip searches).
But online we don’t share space. “We use that metaphor a lot, but it’s not a good metaphor.” In the real world you can’t conceal your identity from a passerby unless you very actively OPT OUT – cover your face, duck behind someone else. Online, concealment is the norm, and publicy is OPT IN. Thus, in using the social web, we have “a bias toward publicy.”
Now online tools are exposing not only intellectual information publicy, but also information about our physical selves – appearances, products we consume, and locations. And, it’s that commensurate exposure of our physical space that gives us the perception of intrusion – we’re opting in, and we’re discussing things easily observed in person, but still we think it’s invasive! Why? Because there is no way to define the width or breadth of that shared space.
Part of how to manage this is the compartmentalization of identity – it’s okay to divide your personality (as opposed to an “integrated, monolithic” character of you that is the same in all environments). But, don’t we compartmentalize in life, too? Bilinguals code-switch depending on their environment. When at work we speak in more jargon. That’s division of identity! Again, it doesn’t seem transgressive because we’re defining it based on our physical space.
How is online different? Maybe we define ourselves one way on Twitter, or LinkedIn – or, even, SuicideGirls.com! Yet, none of them exclusively define us. You know, just like life.
The next technology coming to us is Augmented Public Reality – snap a photo and overlay information over each face! Yet, that merges our online (maybe compartmentalized, maybe not) identities with our physical ones – taking away our ability to code-switch in person!
The moral? Publicy online will impact our personal identities, whether we want it to or not. All the more reason to thoughtful opt-in online.