Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me

Maxwell's Demon: Interesting story on Facebook's sudden change of the default for visibility of actions -- with a new person-based newsfeed, each member's comments on others' pages and pictures, ending or beginning relationships, and other acts are now highly visible. People can now track their acquaintances' activities across many pages they wouldn't otherwise have seen.

Even in a world with Google, people expect that many traces they leave in cyberspace are not particularly visible, since they'll rarely be noticed by people other than the intended audience -- precisely because Google offers up so many things to the rest of us. A unilateral change in visibility leaves us feeling overexposed, violated and even betrayed.

Of course, as Facebook's director of marketing says, "the new features don’t reveal anything new. Rather, they just make the information easier to find." But that's exactly the objection: that this change contributes to the disappearance of the semi-private, the between spaces where people can share things with a limited group of selected others.

Also: now that I'm using Blogger Beta, I have switched to labels instead of the clever but ugly Greasemonkey/ hack I was using to tag posts. I hope to go back and switch over old posts over the course of the next week or so. I only have about 200 posts left! Such is the price of early adoption.

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