21.40, Thursday 20 Feb 2003 Link to this post
The conflict of two forms of social privacy on the net: Accidental Privacy Spills: Musings on Privacy, Democracy, and the Internet [via anil's daily links]. Choice quote: "The problem isn't just that the Internet is leaky; the Internet makes everything leaky". Short comments, many people versus in-depth commentary, few people.
"Now this is a real problem. Laurie Garrett's writing to her friends is the sort of thing democracies like to encourage. Journalism, analysis, deliberative discourse, you know. MetaFilter's discussion, as fueled by the Internet distribution of her writing, is also the sort of thing democracies like to encourage. Citizen involvement, intermediate institutions, deliberative discourse, you know. But her democracy and their democracy seem to have some trouble playing nice. Such trouble isn't the sort of thing that squares very well with our ideas about how democracy ought to work.
"If you like, you can read this whole brouhaha as a culture clash. On the one hand, you have Laurie Garrett and her circle of close friends, who apparently exchange long and factual letters by email and discuss the prevailing mood among world leaders. On the other hand, you have MetaFilter, in which bloggers and netizens from around the world offer rapid-fire commentary and snide remarks in response to a steady procession of links. Both seem an awful lot like communities involved in worthwhile civic engagement. But when you look at how they address each other, it's obvious that neither regards the other as a serious participant in the democratic exercise".