I want to write things and there but this site is being weird. Drupal fun.
- incessant urge to be looking forwards. or to want to do so.
the three most interesting things on the internet:
1) 4chan's /b/.
I mention privacy issues with a line through it because it's much more complicated than having private information be public; Facebook is just one step at the frontier of the reorganization of priorities of information, of the shuffling of hierarchies of accessible knowledge, of the de/re-territorialization of the boundaries of a 'social being' and the redrawing of the map of nodes that connects us all. If anything, it should be discussed in terms of order, experience, knowledge, openness, and maybe the first question would be something along the lines of "what does one mean by privacy?" and spiral out from there.
The introduction of the telephone into the private home, or openness in donation records, or the yellow pages, etc, are already outlets that leapfrog the suggested 'natural' order of information and its accessibility pertaining to a person. Moreover, this 'person' is really a stand-in word for a 'physical person'. That is, if there is a linear spectrum between public and private information, then I feel that the 'order of accessibility' of personal information is assumed to be tied to the person with regards to metrics based on physical proximity, vocal interaction, one-to-one conversation, and so on. For example: If I walk towards the physical you and start speaking to you, I am in order able to ascertain your: appearance (height/weight/age/race/etc) -> sex -> age -> external mood -> name -> external ideas -> gender -> emotion -> inner thoughts, and so on. Technology has contributed to the generation of various kinks or folds onto this order (based on physical interaction) and reorganized into different ways: with the internet, it's possible to know one's political affiliation and age with a name alone -- but not be able to connect it with a face/race, and so on and so forth. This is a new ordering, just not one based on physical proximity.
Thought of in such terms, I feel that the question of Internet/Facebook privacy discussed hotly lately is really about the reordering of these 'orders of accessibilities' and the resulting dynamics that arises from this reordering. What happens when you know if someone is liberal/conservative before you even talk to them? What if you know what someone ate for lunch but didn't know their gender? There's a rich loam of activities to turn over onto stagnant topsoil -- and most of these things happen anyways. Through a causal text message, I know where you are, but not how you feel. If I call you, I know how loud it is over there, but not who you are with.
I'd like to think of these as the growing pains of an online medium (internet, networked technologies) trying to jettison the fetters of a mindset dependent heavily on physical material. This happens in intellectual property issues, too -- what happens when the creation is no longer a one-off physical object and the act of 'stealing' is non-destructive? What happens when the gears of monetary revenue and singular objecthood are uncoupled? It's clear that in the music/gaming/film industry, new (and relatively successful) approaches are being found: iTunes/Amazon/Rhapsody/Gamefly/Steam/Netflix/Hulu are attempts to disregard the physical object and make the game about convenience: here, a one-click approach to buying music, or a free way to watch movies! (albeit with commercials), and so on. While the 'shareability' of the internet and the reorganization of accessibility orders has lead to a lot of great things for content producers, though (think Arctic Monkeys finding fame through Myspace), it hasn't happened yet for personal information, at least yet. The idea of 'Facebook stalking' is a somewhat guilty, shameful activity. Monetization (although that's not what this all is about at all) is only happening on the level of piddly apps, Farmville, ads, and so on. Nothing drastically interesting has happened that has changed our interpersonal interactions, at least yet --- and perhaps that's the strongest reason why these 'privacy issues' are met with the outcry that they are.
It's amazing and interesting, these reorganizations, and there's a lot of interesting things to be found in the midst of it all, and more than anything what we're witnessing is the birth of the new existence of the person, as we lose tails but grow antennae, change into hybrid forms, have our networked selves augment our physical beings. What Mark Zuckerberg probably knows is that if such a thing is to happen, it will mostly be waged on the war of the 'default setting' -- that is, the default privacy setting that generates the entire network of nodes and paths and connections and visibility, on an emergent level. It's only after such a pervasive openness (and such a pervasive default 'privacy violation' will the really interesting things start to happen in terms of thinking about who we are in relation to each other. Before that, we're just still thinking about ourselves as intact beings who use technologies external to us. How does the mantra go? "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."