The UK is one of the most watched over societies on earth with CCTV cameras in abundance, and the whole world is waking up to how much retrievable evidence the likes of Google have on us all thanks to our laptops and cellphones. (This spooky walking iphone was seen at the New York Halloween parade last week).
But is the invasion of privacy making our culture more secretive or less? Networks like FaceBook appear to be turning the once wild web into a cosy global village where all know each other’s business and keep an eye out for our digital neighbours and group members.
Privacy and the implications of social networking and user generation on our culture were key topics in a discussion about new technology on the UK internet TV company Doughty Street TV this November 5th, hosted by the Institute of Ideas.
Reading has always been a solitary activity where the individual’s imagination roams at will. There’s been a strange reversal now that book groups and recommendations from chat show hosts – Richard & Judy in the UK, Oprah in the USA – create a tiny pool of recommended bestsellers in the vast and frightening ocean of the unread. Who are the free thinkers now, websurfers or bookbrowsers?