Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ipods & Privacy

I am now making my way through People and Building a collection of essays on, well, people and buildings.  More specifically, looking at knowledge we have from psychology and sociology and how this knowledge is relevant to the design of buildings.

The article I'm reading right now, about privacy, connects with an observation I made to someone a couple days ago.  I was talking about my perception that there are very few public spaces (real, live public spaces, as opposed to virtual public spaces...this distinction is, I think, important and I'll come back to it) and that even when folks are walking around we try to turn public spaces into private ones through the use of ipods and cell-phones.

This article talks about privacy as a 'scarce resource' and something that we all need. That is, we all need to be able to 'withdraw'. And this connected up with an article I read a few months ago about young people valuing privacy differently than older folks as evidenced by their willingness to share all sorts of stuff on the internet, to keep in constant contact with folks, etc..  This got me to thinking about whether the remarkably public (well, quasi-public, since it's pretty easy to just sit back on watch on the internet without jumping in) way in which young people live their lives (on-line and off-line) explains the strong desire for privacy as gained through ipods and cell-phones.  I wonder, given the amount of time that young people spend on-line and the almost addictive quality of it, if 'private' spaces simply don't seem to exist anymore.  Even the most private of spaces may be experienced as less private and more public in virtue of our posting on facebook where we are and what we are doing.  How many spaces are there where we can 'withdraw'?  And do young people have these spaces?

Okay, now that I've typed it out, this isn't nearly as interesting as I first thought it was, but there we go.

There is something, I think, to the 'quasi-public' nature of the internet since when on-line we can be much more deliberate about how we present ourselves to others.  Like I said, not nearly as interesting once I typed it out as it was in my head.

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