Well, we’re back with a little bit of nonsense. A heatwave is settling in on the I’d apologize if you’re not a fan of professional sports but I’m not sure that I’m too worried about folks being upset about this blog. NBA playoffs are ongoing and as I’m writing this, I can’t get the Nets-Bucks series out of my mind. Even after watching Game 7 of the Hawks-Sixers, that overtime thriller still has my heart pumping. My Celtics are already out thanks to a rough year that led to a first round exist but I think we’ll be fine with early moving and shaking resulting in Kemba being traded. While it’ll be a bummer to lose him in the locker room, the budget help will allow the Celtics to bounce back a bit stronger (hopefully). For now, the only thing I can say is “Oh well” or maybe “Suns in four” which is a great reminder to stay humble and stay respectful or else you might look like a fool.
Over the last week, I had read through “The Known Citizen” by Sarah E. Igo (Goodreads). Embarrassingly, I went into this with normal “tech-brain”, believing everything revolves around technology and that ideas relating to privacy are recent revelations. From that end, I was quickly disavowed of the ideas I had by immediately referring to a 1940’s poem denoting the end of the “Unknown Citizen” in which an “average citizen” is deemed normal and fine in all ways. The final lines are the ones that linger with you throughout the book:
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd: Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.
“The Known Citizen” follows the modern history of privacy concerns and the responses from citizens that decried them as too invasive. On it’s face, that sounds oddly similar to the way that sociologists point to each generation being worried that the next is too immoral and won’t be able to take up the mantle for proceeding onward although it has a bit of a different feel in the way that it approaches these concerns. Rather than downplaying the way people felt about the introduction of Social Security numbers and the negative connotation of being “numbered”. Instead, it traveled through important concepts like the notion of technological changes in the 20th century creating “technologies of publicity” or the documentation changes in America that identified individuals in different systems.
In this first part of the book, I was still a bit unsure of what I was reading through although there was an import idea that jumped out. It talked about who privacy was for in the late 19th and early 20th century. Generally, straight white men were the only beneficiaries and this has carried onward, framing privacy concerns through the lens of what impacts that same class. The book talks about this in a way that doesn’t dismiss privacy concerns as solely those of the white, wealthy upper crust of society yet considers the way in which they could be aligned to benefit all members of society, especially the poor, working, and people of color who are under the eye of surveillance at a higher rate than the rest of society. Probably the best way to put it is the following:
Nineteenth-century family and marriage law, two legal scholars concur, offered women “too much of the wrong kinds of privacy—too much modesty, seclusion, reserve, and compelled intimacy—and too little individual modes of personal privacy and autonomous, private choice.
Ultimately, it’s important to emphasize that the book is not a manifesto for privacy rather a history of the shifts in technology, documentation, civil rights, academic research, and even personal attitudes around privacy. The story of the first reality show, PBS’s “An American Family”. The creation of a reality show in 1973 was unheard of. It was deemed voyeuristic, a breakdown of personal privacy in a manner that confounded those watching. The interior space of the home and the core functions of family aren’t intended to be viewed by outsiders.
Truthfully, I hadn’t thought much about life prior to this date. I always assumed folks were a bit of an exhibitionist about their own interior, interested to show something about themselves. Of course, that’s not the case. There are even comparisons about the art of writing a memoir. Before the period briefly after “An American Family”, memoirs were mostly about the very public acts and outward tasks taken. Beginning with the 80’s and 90’s, memoirs became deeply personal, treating into things such as Susan Kaysen’s time in a psychiatric hospital with “Girl, Interrupted”. The tracking of the way people view their own interior lives even before the rise of blogging with LiveJournal or sharing posts on Facebook. Overall, it’s a great read with a good exercise in thinking about how we view our surroundings.
Now before I get out of here, I’m going to leave you all with a ten song playlist that I slapped together with a lot of electronic music that I’ve been jamming to lately with some pulled from online DJ sets that were playing in the background and others just from new releases that are impressive. Hopefully you get to listen to it and enjoy it:
For now, I’m going to end it here and hope that the blog goes back to building since it’s been recently moved to DigitalOcean’s App Platform so it updates every time I push to the repository rather than waiting for me to run an Ansible playbook that connects to a server of mine and runs it all. A small blip broke updates during the time that I was trying to push this although I think it’s fine now.
Here are some things I’ll probably focus on this next week:
- Migrating the last service from an old account to a new one (jansen.sh landing page).
- Try getting calibre-web’s Kobo sync to work. As of now, it’s just showing an empty JSON entry.
- Clean up some of my NAS box’s extra services since it’s a bit of a mess.
- Maybe spin up a CalDAV task instance for temporary usage since I’m trying to avoid paying for another year of Todoist (even though the service is nice).