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The face cloth

March 25, 2010
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This is a parable (perhaps true) told to me by Stephen Baker (The Num3rati) when I interviewed him for a feature article with Direct Marketing a few years ago. It captures the essence of our modern digital lives. Lives we were once able to keep separate from the ‘real world’, the digital world that in many respects has become more pervasive and ‘relevant’.  As mobile computing expands with geographic location tracking (Foursquare etc…) and with facial recognition ( Recognizr) set for introduction, as ever expanding data farms are crunched by increasingly powerful heuristics there are benefits and conveniences to be had … just as there are costs for those conveniences.

However the question we will need to come to terms with in the not to distant present, is what is the fair market value for the loss of anonymity?

The face cloth

Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli 1486Turns out a female acquaintance was attending a co-ed college.

She, we’ll call her Venus, happened to be showering in her dorm when a fraternity launched a blitz

…nothing sinister just the typical college pranks.

Venus, hearing the ruckus thought little of it at first. She reckoned by the time she was finished her shower, the boys would have vacated the dorm and she’ld be able to return to her room with her modesty intact. But in their hi-jinx, the boys had absconded with her robe and towel!  And when they failed to leave the dorm after an hour, Venus realized she would need to make a critical choice, protect her modesty and stay in the shower till they eventually left or risk exposing herself.

She chose to make a run for her dorm room since she had an imminent  term paper deadline to meet. But with only a face cloth to afford her some modesty there was a problem…

In the end, Venus covered her face and made the bolt to her dorm room deciding that having the boys catch a glimpse of a fully naked woman’s body streaking past them was less of an exposure than having her identity revealed.

….and that is the choice we all need to make.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Sabina permalink
    October 18, 2010 8:23 pm

    Interesting comparison. If I understood it right Venus decided that the virtual reality is more important for her than a real life. She preferred to appear with covered face and naked body in front of several people, but not to be disgraced by showing her identity.
    Still not sure why all of us have to make this choice…

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