From Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
Architectural and planning literature deals with privacy in terms of windows, overlooks, sight lines. The idea is that if no one from outside can peek into where you live – behold, privacy. This is simple-minded. Window privacy is the easiest commodity in the world to get. You just pull down the shades or adjust the blinds. The privacy of keeping one\’s personal affairs to those selected to know them, and the privacy of having reasonable control over who shall make inroads on your time and when, are rare commodities in most of this world, however, and they have nothing to do with the orientation of windows.
What about online privacy? Data privacy? Is there anything but sight lines? And who’s drawing those, anyhow?
A good city neighborhood achieves a marvel of balance between its people\’s determination to have essential privacy and their simultaneous wishes for differing degrees of contact, enjoyment or help from the people around. This balance is largely made up of small, sensitively managed details, practiced and accepted so casually that they are normally taken for granted.”
What is the “marvel of balance” for privacy online? For mobile phone? Or for networked objects? How to you make the casual details implicit in the design? Once coded is casual still possible?
Jane Jacobs gives the example of New Yorkers leaving keys with the deli owner across the street. Joe is trustworthy enough to leave keys with and yet knows little enough about personal lives that considerations of who/when/why is coming is not an issue, because he \”feels no responsibility for our personal affairs.\” : A service like this cannot be formalized. Identifications…questions…insurance against mishaps. The all-essential line between public service and privacy would be transgressed by institutionalization. Nobody in his right mind would leave his key in such a place. The service must be given as a favor by someone with an unshakable understanding of the difference between a person\’s key and a person\’s private life, or it cannot be given at all.
But isn’t Facebook, in a way, an institutionalized version of sharing keys…and even more? What happens as service – or social relations – become institutionalized? Can something be coded, mediated without becoming institutionalized?