Should There Be A Privacy Line With Life Streaming?

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iPhone guitar – quick, someone tell me if this works

blindfaith.jpgI had the opportunity to spend some time with Sarah Meyers of PopSnap this week. Sarah was in town to do the videos for the Crunchies, and I had to drive her up to the award ceremony Friday. On many levels she’s inspiring, particularly given that someone so relatively young can make a decent living out of video blogging, and can afford to live in New York.

We just happened to discuss the topic of life streaming. I mentioned Robert Scoble live Twittering the birth of his son and how I believed that it was a step too far, that ultimately some things should remain private. It’s hard to describe her reaction in words, but the look of horror at the suggestion was something I’ll remember for years. She told me that life streaming should include everything, and that Scoble did the right thing.

On a related note I read Ben Elton’s latest novel Blind Faith on the way to the States, and it’s all about life streaming (note that it’s not available in the US until June). To quote Amazon on the book:

Imagine a world where everyone knows everything about everybody. Where what a person “feels” and “truly believes” is protected under the law, while what is rational, even provable is condemned as heresy. A world where to question ignorance and intolerance is to commit a Crime against Faith.

Imagine it. Or just wait until After The Flood.

On a hot Sagittarian morning in the year 56 ATF, Trafford Sewell struggles to work through the usual crowds of near-naked commuters. He is confronted by the intimidating figure of his Parish Confessor. Why has Trafford not been streaming his every moment of sexual intimacy onto the community website like everybody else? Does he think he’s different or special in some way? Better than his fellow man and woman? Does he have something to hide?

Ben Elton imagines a post-apocalyptic society where religious intolerance combines with a confessional sex-obsessed, self-centric culture to create a world where nakedness is modesty, ignorance is wisdom and privacy is a dangerous perversion. A chilling vision of what’s to come? Or something rather closer to what we call reality?

It’s a challenging book, perhaps in line with Keensian thinking (as in Andrew Keen). But intellectually it raises very good questions about privacy and where we draw the line on what we share online, and in those terms I’d highly recommend reading it.

I still believe that some things should remain private. I’ve embraced Twitter in a big way, and I constantly update it, but most of what goes on in my family life remains private. Blogging even more so, it’s not as immediate as Twitter anyway. A visit to Justin.tv in particular shows people streaming their lives 24/7 and while I can see some appeal in doing a show, the thought that my every move may be watched sickens me.

We can’t do a multi-stage survey using our voting plugin for WordPress, so I’ve split the options into age categories. My hunch is that younger people (Gen Y and the new Gen Z) are more open to complete life streaming than those in Gen X and older. There is a heavier level of cynicism amongst the younger generation, a cynicism that seems to dictate that live and unedited is ultimately the only truth as opposed to the heavily slanted, and edited main stream media.

Leave a comment or vote below, it will be interesting to see what others think. If you disagree with me so be it, Sarah Meyers proved to me that some people believe there isn’t a line.

Should some things remain private in the age of lifestreaming?

Total Votes: 1076
Started: January 20, 2008

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