I’ve been thinking about sharing and intimacy. Reading blog posts like Ben Hammersley’s speech to the IAAC, in which he suggests that far from being naive about privacy, the Facebook generation are very aware of that they are trading access to their lives in order to reap the benefits of sharing. And Martin Belam’s post on teens, privacy and Facebook. Martin gives some advice to adults on how their idea of privacy is not necessarily the same as their kids.
Then there is Bruce Sterling’s essay on The New Aesthetic. Now I am not about to claim that I understand all of Bruce’s essay or have worked out what the New Aesthetic is all about yet, or even what Bruce is suggesting the New Aesthetic is (or should be), but I took one thing from his post and that was that the notion that computers can think, can make judgements, is a generational thing. Kids today are not scared that the machines will become self aware (and send robots back in time to destroy us all).
All of this started me thinking about my own strange attitudes towards privacy and anonimity. I like being online almost all of the time. I share, primarily on Twitter, detail about my life, my family and my thoughts. I use my real name, my kid’s real names. I check in on Foursqaure. My life is available for everyone to see.
However, when I leave a conference or workshop while still wearing my name badge, I am mortified. For the people I walk past to know my name or my business embarrases me. It seems that while I have no problem with being visible to the machine or to being judged by people in my networks, but when in close proximity to people I become somewhat more private, more protective. This is a contradiction that intrigues me. I suspect this may be a related to insecurities about physical appearance - will those people I pass think I look fat or worse still uncool!
Never one to leave a scab unpicked I decided to make something (New Aesthetic anyone?). I created some bit.ly short links (http://saulcozens.co.uk/machine-readable#front and http://saulcozens.co.uk/machine-readable#back) and created QR codes for each (put ‘.qr’ on the end of any bit.ly URL). Then over to http://www.yourdesign.co.uk to pick a garment.
Of all of the available T-shirts, sweatshirt and boxers on offer, it was the hoodies that made the most sense. A hoodie is specifically designed to provide anonymity and privacy when in pubilc - especially from the prying eye of the machine, the ubiquitous CCTV cameras. This is not an academic exercise, I need to wear this thing so I figured that a zipped hoodie (a zoodie apparently) would suit my generous proportions better. A bit of image manipulation later and the application of a suitably retro typeface and my machine readable hoodie is ordered.
Expect to to see me wandering around town. But if you do, be sure to tell me it looks cool.