The blurry lines between social and public sharing

Today I received an email from the developer of Wander, an app that is discontinued as of from today. Can happen, the app did not manage to come up with a valid business model.

What is interesting though is that he introduces a new app at the same time – Planett – that builds on the content of the app of Wander. And that made me wonder what this means for the valuing of trust and the blurry lines between social sharing and public sharing in and out of context.

For those who don’t know the Wander app, it had a nice concept. You met with a random like person around the world, mostly someone far away in South-Korea or Japan, and for a week you share your daily life with that person. Not your very personal life, but more the things you do, the interested places you pass by in your hometown, etc. A great way to get a sense of the life of a local in a strange city.

Planett now is taking the pictures and experiences from these wander chats as content for explorations of cities. Only the pictures that are ‘shared socially’ during the chat so they say, so in principle nothing wrong should be wrong there. And also, it should deliver some nice local guides of course. The app is making it into a game with assignments so the chance you bump into a picture you made is low.

My wonder though – and my feeling – is that taking these pictures out of context, is not right. Not because it is legally not right, or even rationally. But it feels different. A picture shared in a private conversation made public at that moment feels more private if it is shared outside the context of the conversation.

Elaborate on that last sentence. The perception changes. In the heat of the conversation it can be public. Outside that heat the public becomes private. Or at least less public. This is an interesting concept that I also experience with Instagram, the moment it became more public. It is more a proof that we need a new kind of literacy for the post digital world we live in.

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I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

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