You say Public, and I say Private.

Boidem column No. 29 dealt with the issue of loneliness on the web. (I liked the Eleanor Rigby title, but I admit that I was tempted to call it The Loneliness of the Long Distance Web Surfer.) A sub-text of that column was the issue of how our society has blurred the boundaries between the public and the private spheres in our lives.

Two reactions arrived about that column. Perhaps paradoxically they accent the blurred boundaries I've already referred to. They do so not because of their content, but rather because of who they're from: my brother and sister.

Why would siblings carry out a discussion between themselves on web pages? (Yes, I admit that we aren't exactly carrying out a discussion, rather I'm transferring an e-mail discussion to a web page, but the original catalyzer for the discussion was a web page.) In a world with more distinctly defined barriers between the public and the private we'd probably sit down and speak face to face, and since geographically that's not a possibility, letters are a fine substitute.

And of course if we're dealing with catalysts, most of them are probably public: a television program, a book we've read, an item in the news, so ultimately the only thing that's changed because of the internet is the fact that Libbe and Mark's little brother takes their private e-mail correspondance and hangs it up on a web page, inviting others, friends, acquaintances, readers, (even lurkers?) to join in.

Mark's comments focused on the extention of the private into the public and asked whether the opposite wasn't the case as well:

Libbe relates to the issue of loneliness, of alienation, and while doing so also relates to questions of privacy, and, I might add, uses private cues and allusions for expressing, encapsulating, thoughts: Since I don't really have any more family, any continuation of the discussion will have to be from a wider, more public, sphere of acquaintance. Who's next?

Go to: Eleanor Rigby Surfs the Web, or
Go to: that semi-permanent update page, or
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