Tag Archives: privacy

Can the Internet Produce Better Relationships?

1 Apr

As internet communication becomes a greater part of everyday living for more and more people the question is presented, “Are Online Relationships Better than Real Life Relationships?” While it may be very difficult if not impossible to measure the value of a relationship many hints can be found to help us. The biggest measure has to do with the way people feel about their relationships. After all, it is all about perception isn’t it?

There are two main premises for the idea that the internet may be creating better relationships among people than real life socializing alone has done in the past. One theory has to do with introversion, the other with relate-ability and population size. The reality is that both factors probably play a big part in the perception that relationships online are becoming more meaningful than those in real life to many people.

The idea of introverted and extroverted personalities has been made its way from psychology texts to mainstream vocabulary over the past 30 years. Its widely accepted that while introversion may be a great tool for genius creatives or studious academics, extroverted personalities are generally more valued in our business centered society. From the first list-serves to the boom of twitter internet communications have allowed introverts the ability to interact in a more comfortable environment. Relationships can be filtered to find potential friends with common interests, communications can be thought out and drafted in advance and judgement are made son the quality of content rather than external factors of any sort.

The vastness of the internet provides an almost endless number of people to connect with. For individuals that have a trait which separates them from everyone around them this vastness provides the opportunity to meet similar people. NPR recently ran a story about the role that internet communities are playing in the lives of people seeking social support for medical issues. I personally found sites like babycenter.com very helpful for feeling secure about the many many questions that come along with pregnancy.

While a very good case can be made for the quality and value of online relationships, other’s of course would argue that the internet and social media communications are decreasing the value of real life relationships. Its a wonderful thing to have ease of communication (via facebook, etc…) with family that is far away but does it damage the closeness of a relationship when you send pics online to local family rather than stopping by for a 15minute visit?


Can You Even Call It Journalism?

18 Mar

Recent years have seen an onslaught of what is termed ambush journalism. Called so for the style in which “journalists” will surprise their subjects with out of context questions and ask for responses to false facts. The most sever of these ambushes involving  complex plots of deception that seem more like movie storylines than journalistic research. Since the result of ambush techniques frequently involves extensive editing prior to release to the public many believe that these stories are not journalism at all but rather a from of fiction based on true stories. While the true intention of these works may always be in question there are two schools of thought on the true purpose of ambush journalism.

…on the legality end, tho, aren’t set-ups referred to as entrapment? – Ron Bergeron

Is it for self-promotion?

The most obvious gain from ambush journalism is notoriety. Regardless of the quality of the story it will get noticed and so will the person who created it. While the names of ambush journalists quickly make headlines themselves and these journalists oftentimes become the center of the story this fame is not always a positive long-term career move. James O’keefe gained huge amounts of personal publicity for his actions towards ACORN but after it was revealed that his reporting was actually fabricated his reputation as a legitimate journalist was lost.

Is it for political gain?

More often than not, the practitioners of ambush journalism are looking for sensationalism – they want people (including public officials or officials of private corporations) to make stupid or borderline illegal mistakes – Ehsan Ahrari

Because most of the ambush stories have been around political figures and organizations and have shown each in poor (if even falsely so) lights many people see this as strictly a political tool. Some talk show journalists, namely Bill O’Riely, have publicly declared ambush journalism to be their chosen style of reporting and are open about their political goals with it.

While the reason behind these deceptive techniques may remain a partial mystery the effects of them are very real and in many cases extremely harmful to those that are the recipients of the ambush. Organizations have gone under, individuals have lost jobs and personal lives have been shattered because of sensationalized headlines, which in some cases have been found to be entirely untrue. All of this leaves us with big questions as to if ambush journalism can be considered journalism at all? Even more so, if its not journalism is it simply libel, and why are these ambushers seemingly immune to the laws that others would be prosecuted with?

Privacy vs. the Personal Brand

10 Mar

Recently a friend said to me:

I am skeptical still about posting so much information about myself on the web for everyone to see.

This is a topic I’ve pondered many times in the past decade and have talked about with at length with lots of people. I think there is a fundamental decision that needs to be made when approaching privacy and the internet. Are you interacting with the internet to be anonymous or are you trying to build a persona brand?

I know many people argue that things like personalized advertisments and other uses of personal data are privacy issues – I actually enjoy them. I figure if I’m going to have advertisiments they may as well be relavent, maybe I’ll actually be able to make use of them. And for that reason I leave this philosophical argement to others to iron out.

My focus on interent and privacy come with what you say and do and how that can affect you in real life. Most people would agree that going onto the internet, making bold political claims and then providing your home address is inviting conflict into your home. Does this mean that you should never say anything controversial online? No. Does this mean you should never give personal information online? No. What this does mean is that you should be cautious of what you say and how that is related to who you are.

Consider doing a quick google search of your name or better yet your internet screen names. Chances are you will be presented with a rather long list of the things you have said and done online. You might find a couple of items that give more personal information (like an old address) but unless you have listed your information as public through the yellow pages there is a very good chance that someone would have to search hard to find where you are now unless you told them.

My personal suggestion for maintaining a safe and semi-private life on the internet is to allow yourself to be you – but do so in the same way you would in real life. Think of all your interactions online like those at a block-party. Depending on the size of your neighborhood people might not know where you live but if they really wanted to they could probably find out. For this reason we all work to be nice to our neighbors or at least polite to them.

If for some reason you really feel the need to go all out and say and do things on the internet you would never want to follow you into the rest of the world I suggest proceeding with caution. Think about the screen name your using, the IP address your using, the email these are associated with. And mostly think about whether you should really be doing or saying things that warrant this kind of psudo cover.

Journalism or Invasion of Privacy?

1 Mar

An interesting point was presented on NPR today regarding the role of social media sharing, the arts and privacy.

Patti LuPone was speaking about her broadway career on Form when a listener asked about her 2009 reaction to an audience member using flash photography during a stage presentation of “Gypsy.” LuPone’s response gave a very new perspective to me on the role that social media has in privacy and the arts. In short, she explained that while the flash is a very distracting thing to both audience and performer that isn’t the main annoyance. The issue is really in the invasion that social media has made into the theater and the demystification of a sacred place.

Its been a long time since I’ve attended a show of any sort where I wasn’t subjected to the glow another audience member’s LCD screen or even worse the persistent buzz created by text messages on vibrate notification (just because it doesn’t ring doesn’t mean its silent). I understand the general annoyance that comes along with our increased use of technology but until this forum, I had never thought about the implication it had for the sacredness and privacy that a performance is supposed to hold.

The arts are a special subset of our day to day life, they are the closest thing that we as adults have to magic and wonderment. When the auditorium doors close there is an unstated (and in some theaters well stated) understanding that while inside this space you are separate from the rest of the world. Bringing social media into that space is not sharing your experience with the world, rather its destroying the sacred privacy that is intended only for those inside the doors.

Many arguments can be made for need to share the arts but none of them support the use of audience created digital media. While in many situations having a smart-phone can make you into an instant social media journalist, the theater is one place where real time updates need to be left at the door.

The full broadcast of forum can be found here: http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201103011000