Tag Archives: internet

On the Head

Robin Hanson nails it in a recent post to his fantastic blog, Overcoming Bias:

One way to avoid having a social norm to apply to oneself is to prevent wide knowledge that the norm applies to your situation. It is all right if some folks know, as long as outsider observers don’t know. People don’t want to anyone to be able to prove they knowingly failed to enforce a norm.

This (at least in part) drives the desire for privacy; of course, it is also a social norm to restrict certain activities to private settings.

Even understanding what someone means when they smile is a complicated process we take for granted;  the complexities of socialization come naturally to us after millions of years of evolution.

Of course, there are evolutionary advantages to being able to work around social norms (e.g., a male produces more genetic offspring if he cheats on an ostensibly monogamous female partner). This results in hypocrisy (again from Overcoming Bias):

When folks expect to be able to evade a norm, they don’t mind making that norm stronger. This lets them sound more pro-social, while actually giving themselves an advantage over folks who can’t evade as easily. And once norms get overly strong, there is more intuitive support for allowing evasion, via attitudes supporting letting people keep their “privacy.”

I submit this as a solid launch pad for answering the question, “What is public, what is private?”

Public becomes the realm of activities and behaviors which help us cooperate socially to increase survival, and private being the realm of activities primarily focused on self-interest and individualism.

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Please Hammer, Don’t

Hammers are awesome. To our rockhammer using ancestors, hammers were life-saving and -giving. There’s a reason the handheld hammer is in every worthwhile toolbox around the world.

Super Mario Hammer

In his essay titled “Cyberdemocracy: The Internet and the Public Sphere”, Mark Poster makes the outrageous claim that “the effect of hammers is not to make people hammers” (p. 262).

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Standardation

Vocabulary, grammar, format, and any other of the conditions for proper communication are rules; people made them, and people follow them so they might be understood. Those who fail to do so do so at the risk of being unheard (or improperly understood). Continue reading


Sue You, Sue Me

So… one of my professors assigned Blown to Bits to be read in 7 days. I am capable of completing this assignment, but believe I will have failed come next class. Anyhoo, for the sake of brevity, I began scanning the TOC and reading sections which sounded tantalizing. Continue reading


Humans Are Nasty

A waiter once sneezed on my plate as he handed it to me. It was embarrassing for him (I’m sure), disgusting to me, and hilarious to my friends.

It’s a classic tye of dilemma, and one that people face quite frequently; someone experiences (sees, hears, smells etc.) something they do not like (e.g. snot, dog poop, farts, Glee) with no opportunity to protect their offended senses. Continue reading