Public, Private, Secret

Also by way of Clay Shirky, but written by Danny O’Brien:

On the net, you have public, or you have secrets. The private intermediate sphere, with its careful buffering. is shattered. E-mails are forwarded verbatim. IRC transcripts, with throwaway comments, are preserved forever. You talk to your friends online, you talk to the world.

This is why, incidentally, why people hate blogs so much. My God, people say, how can Livejournallers be so self-obsessed? Oh, Christ, is Xeni talking about LA art again? Why won’t they all shut up?

The answer why they won’t shut up is – they’re not talking to you. They’re talking in the private register of blogs, that confidential style between secret-and-public. And you found them via Google. They’re having a bad day. They’re writing for friends who are interested in their hobbies and their life. Meanwhile, you’re standing fifty yards away with a sneer, a telephoto lens and a directional microphone. Who’s obsessed now?

Helps explain why politicians are so annoying to listen to, why I get so frustrated when we lambast our politicians for making off-hand remarks in “private” conversations, what happens when we reach for the telephone after having been on the phone with someone to check that it isn’t still off the hook.


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