[Air-L] Boyd: Facebook and ³radical transparency² (a rant)

Charles Ess charles.ess at gmail.com
Sat May 15 00:03:50 PDT 2010


yes, excellent indeed.
May an interloping philosopher comment and then ask a question? (and then
comment again, if anyone cares to read that far.)

>From my perspective, much of this instantiates what I take to be Niel
Postman's appropriation of Huxley, in contrast with Orwell: the shortest
version of it I can come up with is, we fall in love with the technologies
of our enslavement.  (There's actually a nice reading of Postman's Foreword
to his _Amusing Ourselves to Death_ on Youtube;:
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMZejVltDDs&feature=related>, FWIW.)
This critique is even easier to make in light of the early 2008 Guardian
piece on the political and economic views of FB's founders (roughly,
neo-conservative and "über-capitalist":
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/jan/14/facebook>)
Without developing this critique more fully here - one last bit of
background to my question.  Danah wants to focus more on choice and informed
consent rather than privacy:
> The battle that is underway is not a battle over the future of privacy and
> publicity. It¹s a battle over choice and informed consent.
I'd like a little clarification here - because I'm struggling to see how one
can have meaningful choice and informed consent _without_ a strong
realization of privacy?
This isn't intended as a criticism of danah's most helpful and insightful
comments.  It's intended as an open and constructive request for
clarification regarding what, in my view, may be a critical point.  See
further comment below, if interested.

many thanks in advance to anyone who might be able to shed light on this for
me.
- charles

(As I have come to understand it, individual privacy is a core component of
modern western views of the person as an entity capable of agency and
genuinely free choice - which in turn is a primary legitimation of basic
rights, including choice and informed consent, and thereby liberal /
democratic states (where liberal = you get to choose your own best good in
reflective and informed ways, rather than have it defined for you by family
/ clan / tribe / state).  Habermas is helpful here - but so are Locke and
Kant, as well as, e.g., some recent feminist takes on Kant.
I recognize that individual privacy in the U.S. is encoded into law only
with the Warren and Brandeis decision in the late 1800s and is affiliated
with a conception of identity that many (but not all) feminists,
post-modernists and post-structuralists sought to deconstruct and replace
especially via hyertext and CMC affordances in the 1990s.
It is further abundantly clear on both theoretical and empirical grounds
that our engagements with CMC are accompanied by a shift from a sense of
self / privacy as primarily individual to a sense of a relational self more
interested in a small-group privacy - of the sort expressed by the teenage
girl danah mentions.
While there are numerous individual / social / ethical / political positives
to this shift - my worry is that if we thereby forget these basic components
of democratic / liberal societies , much less forget how to foster and
sustain such agentic selves and their capacities for reflective choice (as
facilitated by individual privacy), we are thereby likely to fall (perhaps
happily) into the decidedly non-democratic / authoritarian / non-egalitarian
regimes that are historically affiliated with such relational selves.
FWIW: between more recent research in CMC that points to a "return" to
something like the modernist self that largely went out the window in the
1990s, and seeing some ways in which different cultures seem to offer, in
some cases, conceptual resources and real-world practices that sustain such
a self - _alongside_ the more relational kind of self - I'm less worried
than I used to be.)


On 5/15/10 2:24 AM, "Richard Forno" <rforno at infowarrior.org> wrote:

> Another worthwhile bit of commentary by danah.....
> 
> Facebook and ³radical transparency² (a rant)
> 
> http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2010/05/14/facebook-and-radical-tran
> sparency-a-rant.html
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