January 12, 2005
The public and the private
I don't tend to have quotes of the day here, but if I did, this might be today's:

Private life in the public eye seems doomed these days, but life out of the public eye fares little better.

Read the rest of that, about the break-up of Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt, here.

To me one of the most interesting things about Being Alive Now has, and for quite a few decades, been the way that the hitherto sacrosanct distinction between the private and the public is getting blurrier every day.

Another of my favourite quotes concerning this odd relationship now concerned what it was like having a private negotiation with Dr Henry Kissinger when he was having one of his bursts of shuttle diplomacy. And yes, that "shuttle" did rather suggest that a mere Boing 747 was too slow for the Flying Doctor and he had to have a spaceship.

Here's the quote:

A conversation with Dr Kissinger at such a time was about as private as the inside of the Eiffel Tower.

Not bad, I reckon. It's one of mine, although I don't believe I ever got around to making it public, no matter how you define that these days.

The point being that once a secret that anyone cares about gets public, it's everyone's, i.e. not a secret any more. If you're Pitt or Anniston, everyone feels entitled to write what they think about you, and entitled or not, they do.

Compare and contrast, as they say, the time – not so long ago – when the fact that the President of the United States, no less. was stuck in a wheel chair was concealed from public view, for year after year after year. Amazing.

Or how about this? - quoted today here:

A Texas computer consultant said he stumbled upon photos of a silver-blue Z06 on the Internet and posted them that afternoon on a Corvette online discussion forum he frequents. Five days later, on Nov. 14, two men from Securitas, GM's contract security firm, knocked on the door of his Houston home demanding to know who gave him the pictures. He said he refused to let them in, and their parting shot was "We’ll see you in court."

As soon as the security men left, the 36-year-old computer consultant, who requested his name not be used, posted details of the visit from the "two goons," as he described them, on two Corvette Web sites. He also posted scanned images of their business cards.

… which is where I first encountered it this morning, and more to the point for the purposes of what I am saying here, here.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 09:05 PM
Category: My cultureTechnology