Accept no substitutes

This Converstion is being Blogged – panel tomorrow

What: THIS CONVERSATION IS BEING BLOGGED: Our lives, online, all the time, in the trend towards lifelogging
When: 12:30 to 1:30pm March 29th, 2007
Where: Pleasants Family Room in Wilson Library at UNC-CH
Who: A Panel Discussion Led by Dr. Deborah Barreau, with panelists Paul Jones, Dr. Cal Lee, Dr. Jeffrey Pomerantz, Terrell Russell, and Chirag Shah [note – librarians have arranged the speakers in alphabetic order by last name]
Presented by: ASIS&T-UNC

For my part, I think I’ll begin with some of the ironies and practices in 1984. Winston Smith lives in a surveillance society where cameras, your television, and your neighbors are aware of your every move. He himself takes part in manipulation of information and of memory — sending old news bits that no longer are accepted down the memory hole. Yet what does Winston do once he finds the one place in his house where he cannot be observed? He writes in his diary. He tries to create a true history counter to that that he is experiencing in his life and work.

Next a bit about Steven Nock’s Costs of Privacy: Surveillance and Reputation in America. Nock claims, validly I’d say, that these past generations have experienced privacy in ways that have never been available to young people in the history of humanity. But we pay. Now we live among strangers, we work with strangers, we hire strangers, we do business with strangers. In place of knowledge — reputation and trust — of people, we use credentials as a substitute. In place of broad personal experiences, we use ordeals. For example, a college diploma is a credential that shows that you have experienced the ordeals set in place by UNC to prove that you have achieved some sort of particularized knowledge from this school. But what happens now that we are more open? What on the other side are the costs of openness? Or the costs of perhaps of vanity?

My third musing is about the increase of self-knowledge gained by recording yourself by various means. Before the inventions of permanent photography in the 1800s, only rich people knew what their relatives looked like. The rich had paintings and drawings and etchings of their parents. In fact only rich people knew what they themselves had looked like a few years earlier. What happened once more people became aware of their histories –their own and their families? Does this shift of personal awareness teach us something that we can carry forward in predict anything much about lifelogging? Would, say, Mary Warner Marien’s Photography: A Cultural History enlighten our understanding of lifelogging?

UPDATE: Terrell writes about his brief panel statement on his blog here.

Jeff Pomerantz writes about the panel in retrospect on his blog here.

Kristina has added some of her ideas on the discussion to her blog here.

1 Comment

  1. Anton Zuiker

    I’m looking forward to this – was last night just talking about how lifeblogging may change the practice of oral history.

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