The Birth And Death Of Privacy: 3,000 Years of History Told Through 46 Images
Greg Ferenstein

“It’s hard to know whether complete and utter transparency will realize a techno-utopia of a more honest and innovative future.”

If anything, we should be able to see that it wasn’t the lack of privacy that provided honesty or innovation in the past. Why would we believe it will provide those in the future?

As to the health examples, this doesn’t take into account the behaviors companies are likely to make, which is higher premiums and denial of coverage for those with higher risks for diseases (and this doesn’t just include the self-inflicted higher risks). [And before someone says, “we can just outlaw not covering people,” there is always a loophole, always a way for companies to avoid covering or paying for something… for example, it may be a lower cost to the company to simply let someone die while they’re ‘covered’ even if they have to pay the family.]

The other issue I have with this is that much of the trend toward “transparency” at the moment isn’t because of a value in transparency, but because the undercurrent, capitalistic trend toward exchanging information for benefit. Public baths, breastfeeding, and sex (Although, this wasn’t public as it took place in the presence of extended family community, which was just a broader view of ‘private’. Oikos, the household, was the basic unit of society and thus, privacy was at the household rather than the individual level) weren’t exchange items like lifeblogging and every bit of data we share on Facebook and more.

All this to say, I’m fascinated by the walk through privacy in history, and I can even see and possibly agree that we may move back to a more transparent society for convenience, wealth, etc. However, any conclusion in “utopia” is one I can’t join you (or anyone) in.

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