The Peep Diaries: An eye opening look into how much we share online

PeepingHave you ever wondered why you bother to share things online? People complain about privacy issues all the time, yet willingly post every facet of their lives on sites that are designed to have that content shared.

The Peep Diaries by Hal Niedzviecki was sitting on my bookshelf for quite a while after I’d won it in a contest run by the CBC show The Passionate Eye. I originally watched the documentary Peep Culture, which is a great example of looking into why we do what we do online. The book, while covering many of the examples in the documentary, delves deeper into the subject.

The Peep DiariesNiedzviecki defines “peep culture” early in the book:

“Peep culture is reality TV, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, MySpace and Facebook. It’s blogs, chat rooms, amateur porn sites, virally spread digital movies of a fat kid pretending to be to be a Jedi Knight, cell phone photos – posted online – of your drunk friend making out with her ex-boyfriend, and citizen surveillance. Peep is the backbone as Web 2.0 and the engine of corporate and government data mining. It’s like the famous line about pornography: you know it when you see it. And you do see it. Al the time, every day, everywhere.”

As you can tell by the MySpace reference, the book is a tad dated. It can be distracting in some cases where he discusses numbers or tools like MySpace which are no longer popular. Regardless of the tools, the examples he uses still make sense.

Throughout the book Niedzviecki looks at many different ways in which “peep” is invading our lives. From online voyeurs creating a separate identity, to reality TV and how surveillance has evolved from taboo to downtown streets to fodder for YouTube viewers.

He paints an interesting picture to show that through these different outlets we’re looking to build that sense of community that was lost in the age of “me”. When communities were closer knit, privacy didn’t exist nearly as much as it does today, if at all. We always had someone to share with, or protect us from bad seeds, but now that’s all changed.

He brings up a great point in that we’re putting out all this content in the context of connecting with like-minded individuals, but in reality the info we post is used by larger companies to make money. Why must we share everything online? What did you do before blogs, Facebook and Twitter started invading your life? Could you stop today if you had to?

The more I read, the more I thought about why I like to participate in online communities. While I do keep a lot offline, I’m open about who I am and the issues I believe in. I like to share that with others online who are willing to have a conversation about any of those topics. I’m not about having a double identity or someone that posts daily videos of themselves; it’s just simply connecting with others and learning from them, or sharing my own knowledge/experiences.

The Peep Diaries does a great job of starting the conversation about privacy and how much we’re willing to give up for a sense of community. It would seem that society is moving toward that Big Brother scenario, except we’re all watching each other, and more and more people are willing to go along with the ride without questioning it. I give it a 4/5.

Password protected relationship

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I got the inspiration for this post from the CBC’s Spark Twitter account where they were “Looking for stories about breakups where one ex continues to use the other ex’s email password.”¬† I’m curious to know how many people share their password while in the relationship, and the affects that has on it.

In this online world we live in there are so many passwords to so many sites we have to keep track of. Personally, I don’t give my password for anything out to anyone, including my girlfriend. It’s not a trust issue because I’m more than happy to log-in to my account and let her go nuts; it’s just something that’s been ingrained in me not to share. My girlfriend, on the other hand, has no problem giving her password to me because I’ll be the one uploading photos for her to Facebook, after I’ve edited them, or checking her email for her, if she’s awaiting something important and can’t get to a computer. I’ve told her time and again I don’t want her passwords, and I try to forget them, but that isn’t going to happen, and I’ve learned to live with it.

What have your experiences been sharing or not sharing your passwords with those closest to you?

You can also check out the Spark episode spawned from the question at Spark 102 – February 14 & 16, 2010

Documentaries FTW

If you’re into documentaries and haven’t yet found “The Passionate Eye” or “Doc Zone” on CBC, then you’re missing out. The programming is so interesting and unique; not just the more popular documentaries, but ones with subjects you may never have thought of, but are so fascinating. Monday night’s episode had the documentary called “World’s Oldest Moms” which looked at four different examples of women who decided to have children after their bodies told them it wasn’t happening. Other cool docs like “Into the Saudi Kingdom” and “Surviving Mumbai” are just a few that are archived on CBC’s site and totally worth watching if you can’t manage to catch one as they air (not the greatest time slots).

What are some of your favourite documentaries? I’m always interested in watching them!

SNOW… IN TORONTO

I thought this would be a timely post, so enjoy. The hilarious clip is from the Rick Mercer Report on CBC from a few years back and something tells me it’ll ring true each and every year.

People generally overreact to snow and it gets kind of annoying after a while. If you’re driving? Drive cautiously. If you’re walking? Dress appropriately. The more you know.

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