“Publicacy”? How About “Publicity”?

by on January 28, 2009 · 8 comments

Scott Cleland is nothing if not interesting. And I was interested by a post he has up this morning: The Growing Privacy-Publicacy Fault-line – The Tension Underneath World Data Privacy Day.

Today is World Data Privacy Day. You can tell by the demonstrations and fireworks displays in capitals around the world. (ahem)

I’ll be speaking at a Dialogue on Diversity Internet privacy briefing on Capitol Hill this afternoon, in case you’re interested and have time.

But Scott’s point – privacy is in tension with the “publicacy” ethos of the Web 2.0 world – I think it’s a very interesting point.

My differences with him are two.

The first is semantic: I think the word he should use is “publicity.” It has the benefit of already being a word – and it’s capable of being pronounced as well!

The second, and more important, is where the ethos comes from: It’s a demand of people – not the Web 2.0 set, but all people.

Privacy and publicity are two sides of the same personal-information coin. People want some information to be kept private – we know that. But they have at least equal or greater demands to make information public – to give it publicity. This is why restaurants and bars are open, curtainless rooms. It’s why email, blogs, Flickr, Facebook and other social networking sites are popular.

The reason why privacy is sought-after and its twin “publicity” is ignored, is because publicity is the default. The laws of physics mean that information about you is automatically displayed when you walk on the street. Photons of light bounce off your body and convey personal information to the photo-receptors (or “eyes”) of people around you.

The ‘physical’ laws of the Internet are similar. You have to ‘publicize’ your IP address to have any contact with another on the Internet. You have to publicize lots of identity, biographical, and other personal information to have any meaningful contact with others on the Internet.

But imagine a world where privacy was the default and information did not naturally travel to others. People would demand publicity. Poeple would demand to be seen and remembered, to have details about their lives recounted by others.

Publicity is not an incursion on social norms being perpetrated by Google and other Web 2.0 types. Web 2.0ish things are a response to the broad implicit demand for publicity. Oh, it’s implicit to the point of contradictory: People say they want privacy even as their actions betray their longing for publicity.

The trick is for people to figure out how to give themselves publicity in the things they want known, and to maintain privacy in the things they don’t. That’s a problem that will most likely be solved by the passage of a few generations, when the technologies that are new today are familiar, and when people have reset their personal information practices and their expectations.

  • http://precursorblog.com Scott Cleland

    Jim,
    As you know I have been called worse — than being interesting. And thanks for your thoughtful and interesting take as well.
    My piece was thought-provoking by design.
    There is no antonym for privacy ,and the antonym for publicity is “secret”, not private/privacy. Secrecy is more active and can suggest people are hiding something — privacy is more passive — it is a sense that people would rather not have others invading what they would not like invaded like personal space or what is really no one else's business.
    In proposing a new antonym for privacy — i.e.”publicacy” I wanted to capture those who for one reason or another are indeed hostile to the traditional concept of privacy.
    My point is that there is a set of interests that are indeed hostile to traditional privacy because it interferes with how they believe the world/Internet should work.
    My other point is that these publicacy interests will naturally encounter increasing pushback as technology puts more pressure on people's expecation and desire for some of there information to be private.
    I must challenge your analogy that because someone walks down the street they can't expect privacy, or if someone has wants to have a web address they can't have privacy because the fact is that people who walk down the street and use the Internet — still do expect privacy — even if some don't think they should think that way. .
    There will be increasing privacy/publicacy tension because people don't always want what technology can deliver… Just because its technology does not make it good … or bad.
    The ultimate irony of the new word “publicacy” may turn out to be that the people who oppose a traditional concept of privacy — would rather not be called out on that fact — they would like to remain — private…
    Best
    Scott Cleland

  • http://precursorblog.com Scott Cleland

    Jim,
    As you know I have been called worse — than being interesting. And thanks for your thoughtful and interesting take as well.
    My piece was thought-provoking by design.
    There is no antonym for privacy ,and the antonym for publicity is “secret”, not private/privacy. Secrecy is more active and can suggest people are hiding something — privacy is more passive — it is a sense that people would rather not have others invading what they would not like invaded like personal space or what is really no one else's business.
    In proposing a new antonym for privacy — i.e.”publicacy” I wanted to capture those who for one reason or another are indeed hostile to the traditional concept of privacy.
    My point is that there is a set of interests that are indeed hostile to traditional privacy because it interferes with how they believe the world/Internet should work.
    My other point is that these publicacy interests will naturally encounter increasing pushback as technology puts more pressure on people's expecation and desire for some of there information to be private.
    I must challenge your analogy that because someone walks down the street they can't expect privacy, or if someone has wants to have a web address they can't have privacy because the fact is that people who walk down the street and use the Internet — still do expect privacy — even if some don't think they should think that way. .
    There will be increasing privacy/publicacy tension because people don't always want what technology can deliver… Just because its technology does not make it good … or bad.
    The ultimate irony of the new word “publicacy” may turn out to be that the people who oppose a traditional concept of privacy — would rather not be called out on that fact — they would like to remain — private…
    Best
    Scott Cleland

  • http://precursorblog.com Scott Cleland

    Jim,
    As you know I have been called worse — than being interesting. And thanks for your thoughtful and interesting take as well.
    My piece was thought-provoking by design.
    There is no antonym for privacy ,and the antonym for publicity is “secret”, not private/privacy. Secrecy is more active and can suggest people are hiding something — privacy is more passive — it is a sense that people would rather not have others invading what they would not like invaded like personal space or what is really no one else's business.
    In proposing a new antonym for privacy — i.e.”publicacy” I wanted to capture those who for one reason or another are indeed hostile to the traditional concept of privacy.
    My point is that there is a set of interests that are indeed hostile to traditional privacy because it interferes with how they believe the world/Internet should work.
    My other point is that these publicacy interests will naturally encounter increasing pushback as technology puts more pressure on people's expecation and desire for some of there information to be private.
    I must challenge your analogy that because someone walks down the street they can't expect privacy, or if someone has wants to have a web address they can't have privacy because the fact is that people who walk down the street and use the Internet — still do expect privacy — even if some don't think they should think that way. .
    There will be increasing privacy/publicacy tension because people don't always want what technology can deliver… Just because its technology does not make it good … or bad.
    The ultimate irony of the new word “publicacy” may turn out to be that the people who oppose a traditional concept of privacy — would rather not be called out on that fact — they would like to remain — private…
    Best
    Scott Cleland

  • Pingback: publicity - StartTags.com

  • Pingback: The NewsHour on Neutrality Regulation

  • Pingback: Camfrog Hosting

  • Pingback: mysterie football

  • Pingback: https://twitter.com/NHCPS

Previous post:

Next post: