Welcome to the bloggy home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Percolate and general internet tinkerer. This site is about media, culture, technology, and randomness. It's been around since 2004 (I'm pretty sure). Feel free to get in touch. Get in touch.

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Blog Everything

The other day Michael asked a question that relates closely to something I’ve been noodling on for a while: “Is it ethical to blog about something that you find through a link from a contact inside your network?”

Personally I believe the answer is yes, mainly because I see posting your links to del.icio.us as another form of blogging. But putting aside the ethical issues, for a moment, it seems we are at an interesting time in the development of self expression. Mainly, it is now possible to express yourself via your implicit gestures instead of just your explicit ones.

I know that sounds strange, and I have to admit, I don’t have this idea fully baked. But basically as a result of digital technology and the metadata it creates, we are able to share parts of our lives in much more fluid ways and that brings up a whole lot of unknowns when it comes to social interaction.

How about a concrete example? Netflix allows you to add friends, when you do so you expose your queue and watched movies list to them. For the first time (maybe ever) I can keep up with what my friends are up to without any conversations. While they had to approve our ‘friendship,’ after that there’s no additional work or reminders that all your actions on the site are being recorded and exposed to your friends. In a way it allows us to ‘converse’ without the conversation.

In the not-too-distant future, we will be able to ‘blog’ much of our world: Our phones will be able to record our locations and upload them and our televisions will record all our shows and make recommendations.

I’m kind of out of it and having trouble formulating a conclusion. So how about I leave that up to you.


November 30, 2006


  • reverenddave says:

    What jumps out at me, especially after that final paragraph, is that this type of blogging pushes us further down the slippery slope of a Big Brother style of society. In an age where the government’s stomping of its citizens right to privacy is greeted by those same citizens with indifference, this type of blogging almost suggests people actively embracing Big Brother’s intrusion.

    Sure you have to make someone your “friend” for them to monitor your lists but it starts with a couple friends knowing you secretly like The OC and ends with large corporations being able to what when and how much tv/music/movies/food you watch/purchase/experience. No society just turns a corner and Poof becomes “1984” its the result of a process so incrimental that the public not only doesnt notice or consider it a big deal but actively works to further it.

    Case in point, I believe everything I said above yet I maintain a blog whose sole purpose is to tell anyone who wants to read it exactly where I am and what I am doing on any given day.

  • Chet Gulland says:

    privacy and social media was actually the subject of talk at the social media club in NYC this week. literally every person in the room had a different opinion, with maybe half thinking we’ve gone too far, and half thinking we’re on the right track, but many for different reasons. very complex. the google toolbar as info transmitter, and zoominfo.com were themes.

    personally, i’m optimistic. so far, i have had no negative side effects, and lots and lots of positive effects of putting my identity out there. the only negative so far is that iLike shows my most listened to band as being death cab for cutie. but i also read a chuck klosterman essay last night about guilty pleasures being ridiculous, so maybe this is really irrelevant.

    have you tried twitter, noah?

  • jeff says:

    you know what the end of society is? GIFTS.COM. not only has the internet pushed us in the direction of not having coversations with humans anymore, it is now pushing in the direction of getting to know no one and having every human be nothing more than a series of negotiable categories….

  • Noah Brier says:

    Dave, I kind of see it as embracing the lack of privacy. I actually wrote about this a few times before. In The Danger of Exposing Yourself I quoted David Brin: “It’s possible that what’s actually going on is we’re actually approaching a transparent society where there are, ‘ubiquitous cameras, perched on every vantage point. Only here. . . These devices do not report to the secret police. Rather, each and every citizen of this metropolis can lift his or her wristwatch/TV and call up images from any camera in town.'” I think you can extract a lot more value by accepting it than by fighting it.

    Also, I recommend checking out Piers’ post on this topic.

    Chet, I’m with you, I’ve had far more positive than negative effects. On the other hand, I believe that we should own our data and there aren’t many sites opening that kind of stuff up to its users.

    I have tried Twitter, it’s very cool. Don’t use it often, but it’s nice for jotting down notes and the like. What do you think?

  • Noah Brier says:

    Lumping people into a series of negotiable categories is hardly new . . .

  • orli says:

    i agree that the way that we interact with each other – both with our friends and with strangers – is completely changing. there are hardly any lines anymore between what’s virtual and what’s real, what’s digital and what’s physical. maybe 3 years ago, there was a very important and relevant discourse about how communication might be falling apart, or becoming distorted, by our increasing use of the web and of digital technology. but i think it’s well acknowledged now (or at least should be) that instead, all the sharing, blogging, interacting, documenting, etc. are rewriting the way we communicate in a positive way, enhancing communication and making it richer. i think that we are witnessing (experiencing, engaging in) a pivotal shift in social interaction, and i think that’s amazing.

  • jeff says:

    you know why it’s not new, this categorial qualification of people…because it’s usually used for evil. GIFTS.COM’s job is to learn things and then find a product that fits that’s person’s characteristics. this way, as a human, you don’t have to bother with all those conversational hurdles like finding out about a human’s actual likes and wants. i use the word “human” specifically because it seems every day the internet is finding new ways to distance people – noah’s likemind group not withstanding. it’s making people lazy – physically, emotionally, mentally.

  • Chet Gulland says:

    i very much agree with orli – that we are seeing an increase in the upside of digital communication. i don’t see distancing and lazyness. personally, myspace has expanded the surface area of my social life immensely, in a way that has helped me become friends, and see in person, way more people than before 9and more interesting people, usually). for example, i just moved to new york, and i instantly had quite a few friends – because of a few connections that were strengthened through the site. this was entirely enabled by myspace (and as it happens, the job i got here was enabled by blogging). i am also able to stay in contact with my friends in toronto to a much greater degree. hell, before i moved, i sent out a bulletin about selling all my stuff, and the next day, all my friends came over to my house (they had seen the photos on flickr, too). it was a great time. i think that’s efficient, not lazy.

    if anything, all of the tools that blog life and aggregate identity and preferences have made me (and everyone i know), more interested in each other, and more interested in other people as well. of course, this is personal, and i’m not positive about in general.

    but while gifts.com might help find a gift and read peoples preferences, i think it is still only a tool to help you, not take over your choice. the choice is still yours, the decision has just been curated (as noah might say) to a certain extent.

  • candice says:

    semi-related thought: Tivo lets us socialize more because you no longer have to stay home to keep up on a show. And if you miss an episode of anything popular, there’s always bittorrent.

    And I’ve got friends from various times of my life scattered all over the world at this point, that we keep up with each other via blogs, livejournals, IM, cellphones….

  • Loren Feldman says:

    It’s dangerous.

  • Stephen Denny says:

    Sounds like we’re heading towards a Digital Miranda Act, where “private” things are our own business while “public” acts are public domain. You have no right to monitor what I’m doing inside my home, but you have the right to video me walking down the street (assuming it’s London, I guess, where I’m reading about all the cameras on the streets). All this, of course, assuming there’s no “probable cause”.

    Hmm. So there we are — we have rights, but we’re open to the world to the less scrupulous, be they the government (no conspiracy theory here, just relaying the “probable cause” discussion) or bad guys trying to steal my stuff. Good guys — those of us without ulterior economic motives — probably have too much information already.

    Interesting to note that companies banking on “self” monitoring services under the Web 2.0 banner will have to deal with a likely consumer backlash — I know of a few and you can find them out there today — and none of them are willing to admit it yet.

  • range says:

    Honestly, I am probably less connected than you guys. I am not a member of netflix and will never become one. Since I come from Canada, at some point this whole let’s share everything attitude becomes an invasion of privacy. When this happens, I don’t know. But let’s just say that there are parts of my life that I do not blog about. I blog generally about work, but never in great detail. Wouldn’t want to get dooced and yes some people from work read my blog, so I am always extra careful.

    Links, like you look at your friends del.icio.us links and you find something interesting and blog about it, that is cool, because del.icio.us is a social bookmarking site. However, I do agree that it sounds like a Big Brother style Cyber culture. What happens when people you do not want to monitor you start monitoring you?

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