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Jeff Jarvis and the two axes of privacy

Jeff Jarvis has an excellent, provocative post about the topic of the book he’s writing: the economics of publicness. (I’m paraphrasing. Read his post to get it right.) I replied in his comments. The following is a modified version of that comment:

Your post makes me wonder about two axes of public-private. (Thank goodness there was only one axis of evil, because “two axes of evil” sounds extra special scary! But I digress.)

The private-public axis used to measure how well-known we are: Marilyn Monroe was a public figure but most of us are private citizens. That used to be pretty easy to compute and, because of the nature of the broadcast medium, it used to tend toward one extreme or another: He’s Chevy Chase and you’re not. You make the important point that it’s not that simple any more.

But there’s another private-public axis: who we really are and how we look to others. We have tended to believe, at least in the West, that our true self is the inner self. The outer, public self may or may not reflect our inner, private self, and we have an entire moral/normative vocabulary to talk about the relation of the two: sincerity, authenticity, integrity, honesty…

So, I wonder about — what I really mean is that I hope your book will help us understand — the relation of these two axes. Is the rise of publicness (in your sense of social publicness) getting us to change our sense that our private self (call it our psychological sense) is our real self?

In this regard, I also wonder about the rise of “authenticity.” I’ve gotten more suspicious of the term over the past decade, and wonder if it shows up more and more because of a sense that the new publicness doesn’t fit with the old axis 2? That is, we’ve entered a new Age of Publicness (in the new social sense), but then we worry that we’re losing the deeply-held values of the old psychological/normative model, so we go back to “authenticity” as a way of holding on to the old norm in the new model.

Well, all I can say is that I’m glad you’re writing this book!

By the way, I’m pretty sure I wrote something about this in Small Pieces Loosely Joined. I wonder if I still agree with myself. I suspect not, especially on the issue of authenticity.

3 Responses to “Jeff Jarvis and the two axes of privacy”

  1. I’ve got your back on “authenticity,” David — unless you’ve changed it in a different way from what I expect.


  3. I can’t believe your site would be so mind blowing

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