Saturday, 5 June 2010

Day 156, on which John considers social trends [5.6.10]

Dag hundrede seksoghalvfjerds. Today we have quite an interesting topic, so let's get this intro over and done with. More productive day than yesterday, sorted mah laegoez, discovered the most immature place in the world, called 'Your World of Text', Lego '16+' board. Lots of immature stuff, hilarious. Really hilarious. And no filtering or censoring or moderation! Woo!

So onto the proverbial meat of our blog post. Social trends. Specifically, those in the privacy area. So, let's start from the very beginning; a very good place to start.

In the beginning, people were born. Born into clans. Packs. Groups of cavemen (see picture for current social stereotype) united together, living together, doing everything together. Hooray. That meant that there was very little privacy, because people didn't need it. What they did was everyone's business, because what they did was meant to be for the good of the tribe. Relationships were very open; whether romantic relationships or just friendships. This meant tribes could work together, and there was a very social feeling throughout clans.

However, when people started grouping together and creating whole countries, it became (obviously) harder to know exactly what everyone else was up to. That close-knit community feeling was eradicated by  the pure number of people in any community. The population kept going up, too. People felt safer within a bigger community. Everyone had their little job to do. Good for them.

But with larger communities came larger countries. Gasp! That meant people got cut off more easily, living in the suburbs of a city (eg. Rome), or in rural areas. People got cut off. The feeling got around everyone in the suburbs that they didn't matter to the city-folk, so they started living their own lives, and being more private. The city-folk felt like the suburban dwellers had all the space and privacy, and that they were stuck in a built-up area, so became even more private. With the increasing population, everyone wanted a bit of peace and quiet, and some space of their own.

Why hello there we are all Victorian very posh you know check our hair OMG
And so, the feeling grew and grew until people were really private, and wouldn't tell their problems to anyone else in fear of embarrassment. Hence, the Victorians. Very private. Very formal. So what changed?

Why ello there how may I direct your plug and string?
These gals changed it, quite a bit. The exchange operators. They'd say "ello, who can I put you through to", and over the years, the 50s peoples started to chat to the exchange operators. Eventually, the FBI got involved and told the women to get the people on the phone talking more, in case they blab some secret or other. People started talking to the operators a lot more, and started spilling all their worries and secrets. Doubtless the FBI found some crims at some point, but the main thing is that they started talking. The formalities of the Victorians was wearing off on the operators.

And so, when phones automatically directed you to another number, and the operators were no longer needed, people needed someone to tell their troubles to. And who better to talk to than each other! Yay, the 60s were in full swing and people were lovin' it.

Facebook; keeping you occupied with joining pointless groups since forever
People went out. People socialised. Communication technology was greatly increased, and so they could get to each other more easily. And then the greatest invention of all time came along... the internet! Sites like Facebook and MySpace could put you in touch with all your friends, whilst forums and imageboards could let you meet new friends from anywhere around the world. What a glorious network the internet had created.

And it didn't stop there; Twitter showed us that, if you haven't heard enough menial crap from your friends already, you can hear menial crap from your friends in smaller portions! Hurrah!

But all this interactivity has a downside; let's get to it. With all people in the same place; be it outside shopping and in caf├ęs or online on Facebook, messages can get to more people, quicker than ever before. And by messages I mean advertising. Adverts can access millions on audiences by being displayed on the Facebook homepage or in shopping malls or on buildings. People are going places, and in those places are more advertising opportunities.

So all this advertising will lead to a conclusion to this essay. We've gone out with our friends, but advertising is becoming more and more apparent and impeding on our personal space more and more. People can find out anything about you from your online profile; the Victorian privacy that we had 200 years ago is nearly gone. Soon enough, we'll want out. We'll want some of our own space. And how can we help this? By designing products and services to help users have some privacy amidst the bombardment of advertising and social media.

We can design interior spaces and furniture to help create a sense of privacy, much like Eero Aarnio's Ball Chair back in the 60s; we can design websites and operating systems to make the user at least feel like they have some privacy online and with their personal files. And, I predict, these changes will happen and will bring us back into a more private age. Which, all things considered, doesn't seem that bad.



Anonymous said...

wingsharthat was definitely more than three paragraphs, I tl;dr 'd most of it, but were you really pitching cavemen life as some kind of utopia?

Anonymous said...

oops I accidentally typed the verification thing into my last one, so ignore wingshar

John said...

Oh phew Karrde, I thought you were saying "wing shart hat" :P

Yeah I wasn't exactly pitching them as a utopia, as there were many flaws, I was simply saying the level of personal privacy was the same back then as it is now.