The price of privacy

I love it when economists and their ilk reduce a complicated issue in life to a simple line and chart (that’s what makes Freakonomics so popular). At the latest New York Tech Meetup, Drop.io founder Sam Lessin did just that with my favorite topic: privacy and publicness. In a rebuttal to Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus he said:

Privacy was once free. Publicity was once ridiculously expensive.

“Now the opposite is true: You have to pay in a mix of cash, time, social capital, etc. if you want privacy.”

Right. It takes effort to create privacy — or to build a private image, as Laurent Haug argues. If you decide not to bother, if you opt out of using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, et al, then there’s now an opportunity cost: you miss making connections that have personal or economic value. That’s why people quite willingly give up what we used to think of as privacy: because it’s worth it to them. These are the new economics of privacy.

So maybe I can start to understand what Fred Wilson was talking about when he said there was money to be made in privacy, in premium privacy (because there’s now a premium on it). I’m still looking for concrete examples of how, but I’ll just bet Fred will invest in one soon.

Now let me make a caveat: privacy and publicness are neither mutually exclusive nor binary; they aren’t competitors at all times. So this is an oversimplification, which I’ll oversimplify even more:

Once-abundant privacy is now scarce. Once-scarce publicness is now abundant.

It’s the second half of that that interests me most since I’m writing a book about that.

So if we’ve seen Lessin’s Law on Privacy, then Jarvis’ Corollary on Publicness (which is my synonym for publicity because publicity as a word is so freighted with marketing meaning now) is this:

Now publicness is free.

So the old controllers of publicness — media and entertainment companies — can’t make money on it anymore.

The economics of abundant publicness mean that the old gatekeepers — editors, agents, producers, publishers, broadcasters, the entire media industry — overnight lost their power. That’s why they’re so upset. That’s why they keep complaining about all these amateurs taking over their sacred turf — because they are. What they thought was valuable — their control — now had no value. They can’t sell their casting couches and presses on craigslist for nothin’. They are being beat by those who break up their control and hand it out for free (Google, craigslist, Facebook, YouTube, etc.).

Abundant publicness also creates new value. Google search is made up of that value. Twitter movie chatter predicting box-office success is that value. Annotations on maps, restaurant reviews, health trends, customer desires — and on and on — all find value in our publicness and so new companies are being built on that value. That is why it is in the interests of both companies and customers to be public and why privacy — when it does compete, when it discourages publicness — becomes a nuisance for them.

Abundant publicness leads to the confusing economics of free: If everyone can create stuff, then stuff is no longer valuable. But your stuff can gain value for you if it’s spread around and remixed and is more public than the next guy’s. The way to make it more public is to make it free. That’s OK because it doesn’t have value anyway. So you have to find value now not from owning and controlling the stuff but from making it more public and extracting value through a side door: advertising, performances, reputation…. (If I were good, I’d turn this into George Carlin 2.0: you no longer want a place for your stuff, you want your stuff to be in every place).

Abundant publicness raises all sorts of issues around ownership. Who owns the wisdom of the crowed? The crowd? Or the company that adds value to it? See also the questions above about making free stuff public to gain value. You can’t make it public with DRM and ownership controls, or at least not the old ones built for a scarcity economy. Being public is about giving up control, which is the exact opposite of how media used to make their businesses.

Abundant publicness makes filters more valuable. See again Prof. Shirky.

Abundant publicness increases the value of reputation. See aplusk.

At the same time, abundant publicness makes fame a devalued commodity. See Lindsay Lohan.

I’m exploring these ideas for my book so please help me tease them out. What are the implications of abundant publicness and scarce privacy?

: Here’s Lessin’s talk:

Speaking of Fred Wilson, I came across Lessin’s talk because Fred recommended watching Twilio’s superb presentation at the Tech Meetup. It is, indeed, a model for such talks and here it is.

: MORE: Seth Godin just emailed alerting me to a typo I’ll leave above: “the wisdom of the crowed.” A spooner insight, he calls it: “But who are the ‘crowed’? They are the newly attended to, the newly famous. We crow about them, thus they are crowed. Does the insight of someone with a lot of twitter followers deserve more attention? Are they more wise? The wisdom of the crowed.”

He’s right. I was starting to dance with that question but let it go: When everybody’s heard, no one’s heard. So who *should* be heard? Or is that an old-media worldview speaking? There’s no longer the media structure to decide should’s. Do people rise on merit of what they say? On tricking Google and Twitter? On outrageousness? On authority?

  • http://twitter.com/zseward Zach Seward

    I’m really interested in these ideas and looking forward to your book, but I’m having trouble following this post and other stuff you’ve said recently about privacy because I don’t know how you’re defining “public” and “private.” Their meanings seem to change from graf to graf (which is understandable, given that you’re trying to imbue them with new meaning), but it’s difficult to compute a phrase like “more public” unless you’ve defined it somehow. Something similar is true for phrases like “scarcity economy,” which I think I understand because I’ve read so much of your work but doesn’t make any sense unless you’re redefining the word “economy.” Is it productive to describe concepts like “public” and “private” in terms of an economy? I have my doubts, but it wouldn’t be fair to judge without more guidance on what is meant by something like, “Now publicness is free.” If we’re being strictly literal about “publicness” and “free,” it’s hard to defend that assertion. Maybe publicness is cheaper, but is this comment public before anyone reads it?

  • Eric Landry

    Great write up. I’ve always thought of credit cards (or some banks) of being into the cheap public and expensive private. Why does one bank charge for a certain thing, but another doesn’t. My *theory* is that when you sign up for the free one, they make their money selling your “aggregated data”. In other words, they make money from your private stuff. You gotta pay to keep that stuff private. Again, just a theory. :)

    • Ric

      When you spend money on a credit card the institution behind it essentially creates the money through the fractional reserve banking system. The only difference is the cost of the creation of the money and the greed of the institution that issued the card. I believe that more transparency here lead to the call for a new more just and equitable economic foundation than the current Fiat currency system can provide.

  • Rick

    Now you are on to something.

    The example of the day care is a week one. The act of putting your kid in day care is a matter of economic survival or necessity in the first place. So any theory about intrinsic motivation here is muddied right off the bat.

    Privacy and publicity are terms that describe interaction within the Socio-Economic culture of our time. An interesting side note is that Privacy comes from the early days of the wealth creation that afforded a “Privy” or private toilet to an individual or family, instead of the communal latrine that is still very prevalent around the third world.

    In some psyco-social research there is a belief what most people view as a personality is truly nothing more than the result of interaction with the crowd.

    How deep do are you going to explore with your book.

  • Matt Powers

    “Wisdom of the crowed.” I love it when an inadvertent typo becomes an astute philosophical point. That’s a happy accident. And certainly preferable to “wisdom of the cowed.”

    • http://www.johotheblog.com David Weinberger

      I was half expecting Jeff to make a similar inadvertent typo at the end of this excellent post: There’s the wisdom of the crowed, and “When everybody’s herd, no one’s heard” — although the meaning (but not grammar) of it might work better if it were “When everybody’s heard, everyone’s herd” :)

  • http://caveserv.com/drupal Jeremy

    Mr. Jarvis,
    I’ve been listening to TWiG since its beginning and really enjoy your insights. With regards to “publicness” vs. “privateness” and the intrinsic or explicit value in either: I think there is value in both. I recently wrote a post to my own blog with my new, odd/unique way of using Facebook to increase my publicness with the various crowds I am a part of while maintaining a level of privateness for each crowd as it matters to me or them: http://caveserv.com/drupal/content/open-letter-my-facebook-followers

    Specifically, to answer you question about the abundance of publicness and what value there is to be had in that abundance I would sum up my own blog post in this way: More abundant publicness makes me a more transparent individual to those with whom I have relationships and need to continue conversations with periodically because it is easier to do so in the new one-to-many relationship the Internet now provides me. However, in order to not crush the value that some measures of privacy afford me and my crowds, it is important for ME (not one single company or set of companies) to control what levels of privacy I maintain. Facebook, The New York Times, Google, Rupert Murdoch, and the government haven’t quite figured that last part out yet, and that is really frustrating. But the Internet makes such stodginess and resistance to change very difficult; so whether they like it or not, we’re going to get a balance sooner or later.

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  • http://blog.syracuse.com/future-news Brian Cubbison

    I wonder if desperate clients will hire a private eye to repair their privacy. Perhaps the new Jim Rockford will be a search engine de-optimizer, for $200 a day plus expenses.

    When people first take up a new medium, they make a self-conscious effort to publish. Anyone can tell their own news now, we say. If a new medium becomes popular enough, it becomes part of life, the random conversations and transactions everyone has. Since it’s not possible to listen to everyone in the world or read all the books in the library, somebody or algorithm will, as jourmalists always have, pay attention to some of those encounters and decide which ones are news.

    Would it be possible to live unnoticed among everyone talking at once? Will it become more expensive to be noticed among everyone talking at once? Is that the future of public relations?

  • http://iamdavebowers.com Dave

    “Privacy was once free.”… What does that mean? Privacy and the loss of it has always been very expensive. See Richard Nixon.

    I think you need to simplify what you mean.

  • http://Robgrantsblog.blogger.com Rob Grant

    Jeff,
    I have lived a very public life. I have always revealed the most intimate and private things of my life. Litterally to the point where people wish they could unhear things. I am always told by more conservative people that when I get in the real world or a real job that my publicness will limit my career. I still keep moving up in my career, I’m still waiting for it to be limited.
    I guess when my boss sees my latest facebook picture of me squeezed into a bikini top I will finally get my comeupits. Or the reality of how fat I really am will crash down on me.

  • Rurik Bradbury

    There is a significant difference between publicness and publicity. Everyday people can live their whole lives in public now, and nobody might notice. Lindsay Lohan blows her nose and 50 people tweet.

    The missing element: the ‘attention economy’. Publicity = attention-attracting while publicness is neutral (simply living in public, whether anyone pays attention or not).

    There is a zero-sum amount of attention to be had, and people gravitate towards group-agreed objects of desire. In that sense the old offline world of limited media outlets has transferred online: because while there are 1000s more publications they still focus on (fetishize) a small group of subjects (famous people) who get the lion’s share of attention.

  • Jimbo

    I wholeheartedly agree with Zach Seward about the problem as just how Jeff defines “public” and “private”. Otherwise, all thoughts and insights may be as brilliant as can be, but I will not be sure if we speak of the same subject. But maybe the book will tell …

    Adding to this, I want to note that there is a dimension to “public” and “private” other than economic. And it when defining those terms, it might be important to remember that – first of all – they describe part of our relationship with each other. Its something about “me” and “you”. It’s social. And social cannot be measured in dollars. Yes, sometimes you can put a price tag on the consequences of social actions, but never not on the relationship themselves. It is impossible to say “this friendship has the value of $ 1000″ because valueable is the social interaction, warmth, intimateness and so on.

    And maybe, just maybe this is the heart of the discussion: the misconception of what “public” and “private” mean and what exactly it is we put a price tag on. It is alway difficult to describe a new, never heard of thing in an old, overcome syntax. But I thing it vital to define these terms and the subject of discussion – otherwise, there will be no discussion but only stubborn exchange of stereotypes.

  • http://avc.com fred wilson

    don’t bet on me investing in a pay for privacy company Jeff

    i like to use the services we invest in and i would not use that kind of service

    it is counter to how i live my life

    but there is a large market for these services and there are plenty of VCs who value and protect their privacy who should fund them

  • AW

    I will focus on the authors interest in publicness.

    The definition by Oxford Dictionary for

    1) Publicity: the attention that is given to somebody/something by newspapers, television, etc

    2) Public: open to people in general; intended to be seen or heard by people in general

    As such Publicness would be defined as the attention given to something on as many platforms open to people in general,

    Abundant Publicness -
    Is publicness abundant? Yes, if we are referring to the amount of tools available that propagate it. Have the gatekeepers lost their control over it? No.

    We have been accustomed to a pre-packed news feed in our lives, which delivered certain subjects of interest in journals, newspapers, comic books, stores, supermarkets in a format that feeds directly into our comfort zone. The old gatekeepers controlled these by paying, cajoling, or otherwise to polarize certain preferences that would shape citizens comfort zones on an open platform available to citizens (supermarkets, Malls, newspapers etc..). Having accustomed for the type of product citizens like (i.e. the type in comfort zone), the more you request it and the more you talk about it, and hence the more publicity a product gets, which gets more media interested to talk about the product, hence creating the publicness phenomenon. That said, the fundamental fact is the more you pay for the publicity of your product, the more abundant “publicness” your product gets. Nestle and Gillete would pay a premium to have their products displayed at a high profile areas in a super market. Armani, Gucci, and LVMH would pay a premium for a large store situated in a trendy area of a mall of high street. Citi bank would pay premium to get a full color page advert in a local or regional publication. Amazon would pay a premium to ensure the key words “buy book” list Amazon.com as a first entry of google search engine.

    Interestingly enough, with all the premium payment these companies make to get their product publicized, the more willing are the citizens to associate themselves to these successful products and hence propagate Publicness of the product or brand freely in their medium! Creating the abundance refereed to by Jeff.

    Nothing has changed today, except the control mechanism which is being now shared between the Old Gatekeepers and the new on the Web ( search engines, SEO’s etc) to reach audiences on a perceived transparent new media. The old gatekeepers have already recruited the right mix of new gatekeepers to ensure the continuity of control. Google cannot be a replacement of the old gatekeepers but a tool to allow those to reach their audience. and by the way they have made a great business out of it. News media, broadcasters and others have consolidated their business and bigger boys bought out the less fortunate in a free market economy.

    Who controls the wisdom of the crowd? I should argue that we the citizens still do. The weakest among us will be absorbed in a comfort zone defined to by the gatekeepers. The strongest among us would transforming the gatekeeper’s path and then there are thise struggling in between!

    In conclusion, publicness is easier today in terms of the tools available, and in this case I would agree that it is abundant. The big boys will keep on paying a premium to shape our opinion; and ultimately it is the citizens choice that will be relevant to the success of a product publicness.

  • http://blog.ericreasons.com Eric Reasons

    Jeff-

    You answered your own question of “who should be heard” months back when you wrote about “publics”.

    We hear our social graph. Theoretically, we can all broadcast to the whole world thanks to the Internet, but in reality, we really are only in communication with our social graph.

    Of course, the larger that graph becomes, the less we hear them, and the more we broadcast to them. Social media doesn’t “make fame a devalued commodity.” In fact, the more famous one is, the more traditional media and social media look alike: to Ashton Kutcher, there’s not much difference between social media and traditional media, based solely on the fact that he’s wildly famous in both. One can’t have a conversation with a million twitter followers any more than once can with a million movie-going fans.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Yeah, Howard Stern told his staff he didn’t know why they tweeted because all they do all morning on the show is broadcast tweets. At his scale, it’s all the same.

  • Kermonk

    Googles CEO Smith seems to believe everything about everybody should be online (whether they want it or not?) – presumably there is a lot of $$$$ to be made of that (right Zuckerberg?) – and those of us who believe in privacy are just screwed soon to be ridiculed by all and sundry (and probably Jeff on TWiG)

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  • http://www.cato.org/people/jim-harper Jim Harper

    I have a tough time with the word “publicness” when I think “publicity” captures what you’re talking about: the human interest roughly opposite privacy.

    “Publicity” may be “freighted with meaning” in your line of work, where the word connotes seeking the attention of newspapers, magazines, etc. (the Oxford dictionary definition cited above). But I think it has the value indicated by its Latin root: public — without the mass media gloss.

    People seek publicity for certain aspects of themselves with certain audiences when they go to bars and restaurants to see and be seen. They seek publicity for aspects of themselves among certain audiences when they post pictures and comments on their Facebook pages.

    People seek publicity with a variety of different audiences, using a variety of different media (in the Latin sense of that word: any agency, means or instrument).

    And I believe they are pretty much in opposition, privacy and publicity, at least in any given context. One doesn’t have a privacy interest and a publicity interest in the same piece of information at the same time vis a vis the same audience. One *can* have a privacy interest in one thing for one audience (sexual prowess: parents) and a publicity interest in that same thing for a different audience (sexual prowess: potential mates), but you won’t find someone wanting both to keep private and to publicize the same thing to the same person at the same moment.

    Now, on the substance of your post, I don’t know that thinking about these two human interests as being *categorically* scarce or abundant is actually helpful. Getting publicity for our strange public behavior has always been easy, and it still is. Getting privacy for the ideas we never speak about has always been easy, and it still is. Saying that one has switched from scarce to abundant and the other has switched the other way doesn’t capture what’s changed.

    Very interesting post, though!

    (And how are you Jeff? Ran into Harry Lewis at a recent IQ2US debate and thought, “Where do I know that guy from?”…)

    • http://blog.ericreasons.com Eric Reasons

      Jim-

      I rather find Jeff’s connotation necessary. There is a reason we frequently choose “privacy” instead of “secrecy” when talking about such matters. “Secrecy” is “freighted with meaning” quite similarly to “publicity”.

      Since we’re living, for the first time, in a society that allows us all to be public (thanks to the Internet), I think we needed a word without baggage to encapsulate that concept. “Publicity” has a deeply dishonest connotation to it (much like “secrecy” on the other end of the spectrum), and that dishonesty runs directly against the kind of openness and transparency I think Jeff is talking about when he’s talking about “Publicness”.

      • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

        Well said, Eric. Thanks, I needed that.

        Yes, I think “publicity” is not only weighted down with marketing baggage but it also implies a more active motive: “GIVE ME ATTENTION, DAMNIT!” versus “I’ll do this in public because I want to and don’t know what good may come of it so better I do that than not.” It also carries with it, I think, the Jersey notion: “Yeah, I’m doing this in public. Ya gotta problem wid dat?”

      • http://www.cato.org/people/jim-harper Jim Harper

        A further thought: With my preference for “publicity,” I’m focusing attention on the human actors involved, what they’re doing, and why. To illustrate: When I switch my Facebook status to “single,” I give publicity to that fact, probably because I’m out looking. I’m in charge of whether it goes out, and it’s availability is something I’m responsible for.

        When we talk about “publicness,” the focus is on the data, treating it as the object of other (possibly hidden) forces. A change of status on Facebook has a “publicness” that’s different from similar announcements on other media in the past. That’s worth talking about, of course, as such.

        In sum, each term may be useful in its way. I want people to be responsible for taking steps to protect their privacy — yes, many are woefully uninformed as to how — because it’s the best way to get their privacy adequately protected across all media and circumstances. Thus, my preference for focusing on people with the word “publicity.” (I don’t see the word as connoting anything “deeply dishonest” — heavens!)

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  • http://www.thechromesource.com/ Daniel Cawrey

    When I read this article, I’m reminded about how some mass media (i.e. news programs, talk shows) now integrate social media aspects into their productions, leveraging this “publicness”.

    Take for example the local nightly news show that creates YouTube-style productions, often times using clips from the site. Or Jimmy Fallon soliciting funny comments by starting hash tags on Twitter.

    Those in media who are smart about emerging trends embrace it before it kills them instead of openly complaining about it. Change is constant, you have to learn to adapt. We don’t really know where technology is going to go, but it sure is fun to watch.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Yes, Howard Stern’s audience has made material for him for years (e.g., song parodies).

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  • http://www.gulpmedia.com Jeff Rosen

    Dear Jeff,

    Disclosure: I am working on a platform that is at odds with many of your beliefs regarding privacy and living an “open” life.

    I am not yet sure if I can be coaxed into your camp. You make some very good arguments regarding openness and free creating value. In order for me to get a better feel for your thoughts on this subject, I was hoping you might answer a few very basic questions.

    1. Have you ever been the victim of negative consequence due to your publicness?

    2. Do you have any children?

    3. How would you or how have you dealt with this subject.

    There are things more dear than creating value from being a very open/public individual, including one’s own safety. I am certain you do not need a list of true stories outlining some very real dangers of your philosophy.

    I am a parent of four children, it is my duty to educate and protect them.

    How would you suggest to parents the best way to do that?

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Jeff,
      Huge questions. Too big for a comment. That’s why I’m writing a book. ;-)
      I have had people go after me for being public but in the net I have not regrets. Yes, I have a family and, I’ve said here, it is vital that I not bring them into my glass house.
      jeff

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Jeff,
      Gulpmedia looks very interesting.

    • http://www.providentpartners.net/blog/ Albert Maruggi

      I have five kids and this fishbowl is a doubled-edged sword. The phone company (remember them) used to charge you to NOT to be listed. If my children’s world is one of greater openness when should they start? When they are mature to handle a public persona? I’d submit that society is not ready to reward a public persona. Society will still jump on a human error and perpetuate it. This forces one to be less “human” or transparent. The public domain we are creating has not yet impacted human nature or old model economics.

      Scarcity is not valued, but packaging is valued. That’s gone on before, plenty of people repackage public data in a convenient way for a premium price, whether that’s National Weather Service data in the digital world or Dole salad in a bag of salad ingredients sold next to the head of lettuce! I would have loved to been in the first meeting of that product. “I’ve got a great idea, let’s cut up lettuce, carrots, and onions, put them in a bag, and sell them next to the lettuce, carrots and onions.” Are people that lazy?

      Participation in this digital socialist economy where we benefit from each other’s participation in a world that is still financially capitalist is a bit ironic. All of our digital contributions help Jeff with his book, meanwhile I still have to feed five kids. What do I get out of this 20 minute thought provoking conversation? Not picking on you Jeff, I’m just saying : )

      At what point does the individual stop being your marketer, if at all? What am I getting as a content creator, compared to a content consumer. If no one adds their review on Yelp, then much of the benefit of being social, being public goes away.

      If institutionally we create a MUST HAVE social footprint then we’ll have to live with being public. What I mean here for example is that. What if companies start regularly proactively seeking candidates on the basis of their digital footprint, then there is potential benefit. Another would be content creators get some benefit e.g. 10% off dinners et. al

      In the last 6 months the personal brand issue is receiving considerable attention, but I’ve been simmering on it for quite some time. Here is another angle as highlighted by Business Week reporter and author Stephen Baker. It’s the conflicted relationship between the employer and the personal brand.

      Social media continues to evolve. At this point it could be a medium that transforms the world with events like Iran’s election exposure or a great folly of a self absorbed few which was spurred on during an economic crisis that caused millions to participate because of low cost, the allure of easy money, and the collapse of traditional media and institutions.

  • http://www.stoweboyd.com Stowe Boyd

    Jeff -

    I have been using the term ‘publicy’ to represent the shift away from privacy to a more open model of identity:

    Publicy

    n. 1. a. The quality or condition of openly sharing personal and relational information with others.

    b. The state of participating in open social discourse online, and the social relations that arise from that: a person’s right to publicy.

    2. The state of living in public, and identifying with others that do so; publicness.

    I plan a longer response to your post, but just thought I’d throw this into the mix: see http://www.stoweboyd.com/tagged/publicy

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Stowe, I know, but every time I hear that word I have to clean my ears out with sandpaper. Sorry! I will compare my definition from the book in a future post and will look forward to discussing it. But I’ll pay you not so say … oh, I can’t even say it….

  • http://www.johotheblog.com David Weinberger

    Great topic, great post. I’m really happy you’re taking these issues on.

    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: what 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!

    • gregorylent

      the mystic view is that we are not our body, nor are we our thoughts … we are the knower, the awareness, and that is not actually personal …

      technology as applied in these communication arenas seem to be creating a situation where the mystic’s understanding is coming to be seen as how it is … the body is a vehicle for social comment (facebook photos), thoughts as an expression of passing attitude or point of view …

      in other words all that is public is just a game … a mediated reality.

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  • csbartus

    As asymmetry broke the classic ad/media combo it will napster the business of making money from privacy too.

    Who is hunting reputation today? Everybody? Nope .. Politics, Media, Pop culture and all … Incumbent institutions without any value left in just the broadcast / attention time they get.

    Who will need reputation tomorrow? Programmers, designers, skilled professionals will all get attention, reputation and revenue under any nickname they choose to run a blog or write to a forum.
    They are not subject to privacy and publicity at all, they are highly visible on their own channels for free, under the identity they want.

    So nothing is changing … Things having no value will starve for reputation and will build a highly visible, false identity which has no private value at all.
    Values will build niche channels on custom rules where knowledge triumphs indiferent of privacy and publicity

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  • http://www.gulpmedia.com Jeff Rosen

    I think this conversation is fantastic. I find myself thinking about multiple times a day.

    One element that I think is being overlooked is that it is not simply about public or private. It’s more importantly about being able present ourselves in multiple ways depending upon the venue, conversdation and audience. We may have an inner-self, but we choose what elements to make apparent according to the situation.

    Example. How I portray myself to co-workers is very different that how I want to or need to portray myself amongt my friends or family. The same goes for a relationship with a boss.

    The Internet does not yet have this all important feature. It has thus far argued for openess or privacy.
    The fact is we need a hybrid platform.

    This feature is actually an essential element to my platform’s development and relates directly to targeted advertising.

    Again, I love this topic but I feel it is being terribly oversimplified.

  • http://www.gulpmedia.com Jeff Rosen

    So much for typing on a blackberry. Sorry for all the gramatical errors.

  • http://www.gulpmedia.com Jeff Rosen

    And spelling errors. Oh well.

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  • http://www.adjuggler.com John Shomaker

    To one of the earlier posts, defining public vs. private is scalar as Jeff said. In a business context, the Internet has created frictionless distribution, so today the marginal cost of publicness is approaching zero, while privacy is moving in the opposite direction. One major topic to consider in these dynamics is brand strategy. Maybe a very exclusive brand – Ferrari – is willing to increasingly pay for privacy, but most brands will be conflicted with preserving brand value and uniqueness with the costless publicness to distribute the brand. I like to think that we’re in the first phase of ‘wild, wild west’ publicness, where we seem to have little control over our publicness (e.g., teenagers rightly concerned about posting videos on Facebook that will haunt them in their 40s, and politically-correct companies pulling down campaigns because one skewed respondent finds the ad offensive). In phase 2, I think tools will emerge to segment out “non-productive” publicness – think: removing (not adding) people to your LinkedIn account, so that the network is, in fact, valuable – not a race to get to 1,000 meaningless friends. Companies will construct and refine meaningful user groups where feedback is more predictive of brand value. Net-net, this is just a partial thought, but I do think the concept of brand and brand value – concepts created by TV in the 1930s – will get redefined with the public vs. private paradigm. (Speed of innovation, time-to-competitive advantage are two other thoughts, Jeff.)

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