Oversharing as Digital towards the detail of Analog

Did you know there’s a level of Dots Per Inch after which your eye simply cannot see any difference? Any added level of detail isn’t perceptible to you unless you select an area to zoom in on, changing the inches over which the dots are distributed.

This is what came to mind when listening to the Oversharing Forum at Media In Transition 8 conference at MIT’s Media Lab. The speakers covered EverydayCarry, the panopticon, and quantitative self. The point was brought up of how you must always assume you are being surveilled, and it only takes one person in a group to be recording for the entire group to be documented. The responsibility was bandied from the person recording to the person being recorded, to the person sharing, to the spaces themselves have default settings for recording (or not) (think theaters vs conferences). Zittrain brought up that the only way to NOT be recorded is to not do anything notable, and that is a long dark path of social blandness and fragility.

If each of us is a set of pixels in an image, or we produce the pixels which make up a digital self, at some point you get high resolution by sharing more, but it’s still in the abstraction of viewing the whole picture that people get a sense of who you are. Strangely, because we are each sharing things with metadata, we are also able to get abstraction divorced from the individual, and rather across the topic (EverydayCarry being a great example of this). These pixels, if we each are keeping our heads down for fear of how we are treated in the future, lead to one bland picture when you step back from the individual into the zoom setting of society.

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For me, this is contingent upon two things: one is a celebration of diversity, so that image is beautiful regardless of zoom. The issue here is how we handle past mistakes, how we grow as individuals, and what it is to act for the sake of an act rather than as performance. Caveats of course apply for healthy vs antisocial deviations from the norm. Secondly, we have made explicit how individuals in aggregate form the social. The individual’s broadcast (or notable lack) has always been what has formed society, but now the ability to see and track this makes the sharing and examination itself as equally apparent as the information being shared. We must begin to detail where that line exists and the expectations and responsibilities associated with it.

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