personal paparazzi

what i find interesting about blogging is how readily people put their personal lives out for anyone to read. not only is it a terrific end-run around the orwellian panopticon, but it also makes me wonder what effect on people might this culture of blogging be having?

on a recent plane flight, some people in seats near me were reading people magazine or us weekly. and it struck me in a way i didn’t expect, to see the pictures of vaguely familiar actors and models in semi-private settings flip by. how is it completely legal for someone to stalk a person, take a picture of them, and then publish it in a national magazine? what are the bounds? should there be a creative commons license for personal privacy/identity? (and wouldn’t it be great as a tattoo!?)

i had this thought while looking at a picture of matt damon and his girlfriend in a magazine laid open on the lap of the sleeping person next to me. it was a full page picture, and they were walking directly towards the photographer, looking pretty run of the mill. the caption said something about their having come back from a u2 concert. made me wonder what the world would be like if the photographer was legally obligated to ask the couple if he could take/publish their picture.

the thing i like about blogs is that i pretty much control the information i put out there. there are some things i blog about, and some i don’t, and i get to decide what, when, how much. but it doesn’t appear that matt damon is afforded the same luxury, walking down the street mid-conversation with his girlf. of course there are exceptions. friends and people i know can blog about me. someone i don’t know could blog about me. but what’s nice is that among bloggers, we’d be on somewhat even footing.

for instance, cory doctorow could tear into me on boingboing (i don’t know why he would do that), which is a much bigger stage than justinsomnia, but in so doing he’d probably link to me and my traffic would spike, wherein i would have a massive captive audience reading my rebuttal. but matt damon doesn’t have a forum comparable to people magazine to post pictures of the photographer in private moments (but it would be cool if he did). so the disincentive for the photographer (that exists for the blogger) is diminished.

anyway, it makes me wonder what percentage of people choosing to blog is borne out of our paparazzi culture? do i feel more comfortable posting photos of myself online because that’s what i see in so many magazines? am i subconsciously emulating people magazine? if not me, what about everyone else?


*Sometimes* the relationship between stars (bloggers) and papparzzi (other bloggers) is consensual. Even tho’ the stars act as if they are annoyed that their picture is being taken, how can they not benefit from the mind share that is gained from being in a 50k plus circulation from a national magazine? This sorta supports the old maxium that “No press is bad press”. If ya spin it that way. Creative Commons licenses can give consent for others to promote you.

Playing off your Matt Damon example, I think it would be the heat if celebs started carrying cameras to snap photos of paparazzi and then went and blogged about it. They could make up hysterical stories to go with the images of the stalker photographers. Turn it into a cycle of tit-for-tat photo attacks. I hope someone uses this idea!

Paparazzi culture! (Love it.) I think the percentage is high – who *doesn’t* want to be special?

If you do feel more comfy because of magazines, where’s the harm? I think your unspoken point is that privacy is GOOD. I mean, is it? Really? We’re social creatures, in the main, and we love attention. We’re intensely curious about each other. We’re basically freakin’ primates after all.

Excellent post, btw.

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