I wonder if either of my regular readers have noticed a subtle change to the way I’ve been posting recently? In the past, I’ve maintained fairly well defined barrier between my private life, and what I’m prepared to reveal online. In the past couple of weeks, however, I’ve let that slip. First, I drew attention to my Flickr account. An then I went the whole damned hog, and posted a link to video of myself online: Note on Modern Liberty. This in turn allows those who are prepared to click their computer mouse a couple of times, the chance to see family videos and the like.
In the past, I’ve been careful not to provide details of my social networking presence on the blog. This is not because I believe that in so doing, I can totally maintain my anonymity… for this is manifestly not the case. Rather, it is that a small degree of privacy is retained. If people want to know about me, they have to go out of their way to do so.
Furthermore, I had hoped that by refusing (until now) to put my face, or the comings and goings of my personal life online, I’ve built a bulwark against the cynics and the ignorant who seem to think that blogging is nothing more than narcissism (though ironically, this little bit of meta-blogging is pretty narcissistic). I can assert with some credibility that it is a much more outward looking project. Or its a scrap-book. Its not narcissistic to create a memento, even if its one for your thoughts.
(Now I think of it, I did put a bit of my face in a blog post once, but there’s nothing to note that its me).
So what’s changed? Well, I think it is seen as less geeky to have a blog, and to post messages to it. On the rare occassions on which I have to explain myself, it is increasingly my interrogator who comes off as out-of-touch, a luddite, lacking the imagination to see why I might find this sort of activitiy useful. Clay Shirky provides some usueful ammunition here – his lecture on “congnitive surplus” is the definitive smack-down to those who sneer “where do you find the time?” In Here Comes Everybody, he also explains how the question has shifted from “why publish?” to “why not publish?”
Second, I’ve noticed that even the biggest of bloggers allow some private moments into their public square. Jason Kottke recently posted a graph of his wife’s weight during her pregnancy, and Andrew Sullivan’s wedding photos are online. So I think disallowing my face from an little-trafficked, eponymous blog is probably unnecessary.
Finally, I’m struck by the idea of personal or organisational “channels”. I now produce YouTubes, podcasts, blogs and Twitters, all of which appear on Facebook without me ever having to actually visit the site. Its an experimentation in communication, self expression.