[Air-L] Inside, Outside, Upside, Down - Privacy and Public presence in the Internet age

Jessica L. Beyer jlbeyer at u.washington.edu
Mon May 10 10:29:21 PDT 2010

This is such an interesting way of thinking about this issue.  I particularly find the definition of “private” as something that people perceive as unseen or as difficult to access after the fact to be very thought provoking.  It seems that much of what you are examining has to do with perception of privacy as well as accessibility after a conversation.

Another example might be chat in online video games (WoW, Xbox Live…)—on the one hand the companies that own the games are likely recording all text based chat—but on the other, to the "conversers" they can feel ephemeral in spite of peoples’ ability to screen capture.  This is setting aside the voice chat that many gamers use.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about whether the return to text as a common medium for synchronous (IMing for example) and asynchronous chats (posting boards or email for example) has made us more likely to disclose secrets to each other.  For example, the flowery language in an old fashioned love letter is more easily used in textual interaction than spoken word.   I don’t know if there is any work on this—but when looking at the growing number of people meeting partners in online social locations that are not dating sites, it seems as though there might be some impact of text as the primary medium of communication.

Can’t wait to see your paper,

Jessica L. Beyer
Doctoral Candidate
University of Washington
Department of Political Science

On Thu, 6 May 2010, Alex Randall wrote:

> I am working on a paper on the transformation of private and public
> presence in the Internet Age.
> This began with the observation that a Kindle shows no BOOK COVER and
> what was previously a public statement of what you are reading is not
> private. (Read a magazine on a subway and someone may come up to you and
> ask how you like a certain article - the cover is a public statement of
> your reading choice.)
> Old fashioned mail - like Love letters - gave historians a paper trail
> to track the inner lives of people, which, indirectly took something
> very private and made it public. On the other hand, IM love notes,
> disappear from view after being read - making them more private that old
> mail in envelopes. Something public has become private.
> I am seeking other examples of communication in the Internet Age that is
> taking something essentially public and making it private.
> The cases of things that are private being made public abound, but the
> other side of the equation is fascinating. Despite all the talk of the
> loss of privacy, the fact remains that the internet age has made private
> many formerly public messages.
> Anyone have other suggestions of examples of public content going
> private?
> Alexander Randall
> Professor of Communication
> University  of the Virgin Islands
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