54°F
weather icon Clear
app-logo
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

A peek into ‘The Peep Diaries’ and your privacy

“Once upon a time, we were taught to avert our eyes, not to electronically enhance them,” notes Hal Niedzviecki, author of “The Peep Diaries.” He reminds us of the dismal fate that met poor Tom the tailor, the world’s original Peeping Tom. When Tom bore a whole in his shutters so that he might catch a glimpse of the naked Lady Godiva riding her horse through town, he was immediately struck blind, or dead, so the story goes.

For centuries, folks have been sharing Tom’s cautionary tale, taking heed of the perils of peeking. But now, at the height of pop culture, in the wake of technological advancements, and in the clutches of capitalism, we’ve become a society of Peeping Toms: voyeurs, sharers and even oversharers — encouraged to snoop, spy and expose ourselves, by the powers at large.

“When a thousand-year prohibition is readily cast aside, it’s probably a good idea to wonder how that happened and what it means for our society,” says Niedzviecki, and that’s exactly what he does within his nonfiction book. “The Peep Diaries” is an intelligent, pragmatic and well-rounded study of today’s Peep culture.

What is Peep? It’s a term Niedzviecki’s coined to encompass reality TV, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google, blogs, chat rooms, amateur porn sites, citizen surveillance and numerous other technological tools and trends designed to keep us connected.
     
Unlike other books on the subject, “The Peep Diaries” takes, not so much an alarmist’s stance, as one of genuine curiosity. Niedzviecki considers our wired world from a sociologist’s perspective, tracking human behavior, and gossip trends, from the days of tailor Tom to this evening’s broadcast, where the latest celebrity scandal qualifies as legitimate news. (Today, it was more on Mel Gibson.) He interviews reality TV personalities and amateur porn stars to understand the psychology of “oversharing.” He chronicles his experiments with Facebook, blogging, nanny cams, and GPS trackers. When he throws a real life party for his virtual friends, to have only one guest show, he’s forced to consider the essence of virtual relationships. An impartial author, Niedzviecki investigates and reports on both the benefits and the hazards of living life on record, citing convenience and the sense of security as pros, but the sacrifice of privacy as a rather weighty con.

To fully appreciate his eye-opening, jaw-dropping, mind-boggling chapter on privacy you’ll need to read the book. But, basically: “The homeless woman living in a bag in the park across from the White House has more privacy than your average homeowner.”

Niedzviecki’s investigation details the process whereby data collection companies monitor us, via insurance and loan records, credit card activity, reward programs, feedback forms, Google searches, Facebook, and even TiVo, to create detailed profiles which they then sell (for as little as $39.95) to anyone with the cash and inclination to buy. The mind-boggling part: We don’t care! We’re happy to forfeit our privacy in exchange for convenience, a sense of security, a feeling of connectedness, cash and a shot at 15 minutes of fame.

The problem, as Niedzviecki sees it, is that, for all the seeing we’re doing, we refuse to see the big picture. “Peep is so interwoven with other social and cultural forces that it’s possible to argue that even the smartest of us don’t really know what we’re doing and why.”

He may be right. All I know is that it’s time to post my review on Goodreads, order three more books from Amazon and update my Facebook status: “You all need to read ‘The Peep Diaries.’ ”

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Susan G. Komen organization announces 30 grants

Susan G. Komen, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, has awarded 30 new grants to researchers at 18 leading institutions in the U.S. and Canada. The $14 million in grants support the organization’s mission to end breast cancer through funding two key focus areas: research to better detect and treat stage IV (metastatic) breast cancer and research to eliminate disparities in breast cancer outcomes.

Mob Month is back at the Clark County Library

For the fifth year the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District is making an offer some people find they can’t refuse. Mob Month is coming back to the Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road, with events Tuesday nights in January.

7 ways autocomplete can get smarter

Autocomplete is one of the best (or depending on how hastily you push ‘send’ – worst) things in the world. We rely on it so much that Google plans to let us autocomplete whole emails. Here are seven ways predictive input can improve. 1. Recognizing names from previous emails Jakub Kokoszka has a tough name to […]

Movie posters might soon be based on your clicks

You may have thought you left Blockbuster behind, but the basic way we browse movies hasn’t changed all that much. We peruse poster after poster, kind of like walking the aisles of a ‘90s-era video store. That one poster image, meant to appeal to as many people as possible, is often all we see before […]

What I’ll be covering at NAB 2018

The National Association of Broadcasters show kicks off this weekend in Las Vegas.  The show focuses on new and emerging technologies and trends in relation to the media and entertainment industries. As it’s not open to the public, I’ll be at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday to share some of […]