Joho the Blog » First post at Medium.com: The Internet is not a Panopticon

First post at Medium.com: The Internet is not a Panopticon

I’ve been meaning to try Medium.com, a magazine-bloggy place that encourages carefully constructed posts by providing an elegant writing environment. It’s hard to believe, but it’s even better looking than Joho the Blog. And, unlike HuffPo, there are precious few stories about side boobs. So, and might do so again.

The piece is about why we seem to keep insisting that the Internet is panopticon when it clearly is not. So, if you care about panopticons, you might find it interesting. Here’s a bit from the beginning:

A panopticon was Jeremy Bentham’s (1748-1832) idea about how to design a prison or other institution where people need to be watched. It was to be a circular building with a watchers’ station in the middle containing a guard who could see everyone, but who could not himself/herself be seen. Even though everyone couldn’t be seen at the same time, prisoners would never know when they were being watched. That’d keep ’em in line.

There is indeed a point of comparison between a panopticon and the Internet: you generally can’t tell when your public stuff is being seen (although your server logs could tell you). But that’s not even close to what a panopticon is.

…So why did the comparison seem so apt?

31 Responses to “First post at Medium.com: The Internet is not a Panopticon”

  1. I agree with you on the panopticon. When I was in grad school in art they used to come up all the time. I think they just have that Orwellian / Kafakesque creepiness that we love to worry over or tell other people that they should worry over.

    So what did you think of Medium?

    It does deliver “long reads” (or Medium ones) as promised. One thing I notice is that when I go to a lot of “normal” web/blog pages with “walls of text” you do sort of get that TLDR feeling. I long for section headings and a few images. But when a piece “says” “I’m a long read” I seem to mentally enter a different sort of space.

    And sites like Medium do a nice job of stripping out all that visual clutter that some sites less elegantly designed than Joho sometimes have.

    But of course, Medium is proprietary. It’s your blood, sweat, and tears at somebody else’s apartment complex. So it’d be hard for me to go to Medium over a WordPress site.

    Have you tried Ghost? It’s pretty beta still, but it is Open Source and it’s quite decluttered.

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