Ubiquitous Self-Documentation and The Abolishment of PrivacyJoe McCann
SXSW is truly a social experiment every year it takes place in beautiful Austin, Texas. The combination of Film, Technology (Interactive) and Music makes for a perfect blend of creatives, professionals, influencers and geeks.
What's particularly peculiar about SXSW this year, 2013, is how nearly everything, and I mean everything is documented, particularly in a visual manner (photos and video). There isn't a moment at an event where someone, somewhere isn't taking a photo, Instagramming, Vine-ing, Tweeting, Facebooking, Snapchatting, Socialcam-ing, or Youtubing any and all things around them, particularly themselves and how they are engaging in the moment. This is what I consider the begining of a large secular movement into an era "self-documentation" or how one is capturing their "now moment" and sharing it with everyone else.
And everyone is doing it.
I was fascinated when I walked through the Fader Fort to see how Fader, and the brands that sponsored the multi-day event, were enabling attendees to document all the things about the Fader Fort, and of course, the brands that were associated with it.
For example, there was a "Dance your GIF Off" booth that captured moments like the following:
What's interesting here is that Converse and Fader are leveraging a common visual element that is omnipresent on the internet: the animated GIF. From adorable cats to the dramatic chipmunk, the animated GIF has created many an internet star...and that's precisely why the animated GIF-making machine is at the Fader Fort.
You see, you too can be an internet star. You can create your very own animated GIF that will immediately be posted to the internet where you can view it and then Tweet and Like it straight away.
Oh, and what's the number one thing that's consistent in every GIF? The Converse branding, of course.
But it doesn't stop there. How about people actually "Vine-ing" some of the animated GIFs on display at the "Dance Your Gif Off" booth?
Or even someone Instagramming it.
You Are The Ad, Err Brand Ambassador
Now as clever as the animated gif machine was (and fun to boot), Converse didn't stop there. With no incentive beyond getting a photo posted to the internet, attendees lined up to take a two-part photo which would then be shared by Converse.
Again, this is all part of the self-documenting experience of being there, in the moment. Converse wins big as these brand ambassadors are creating bespoke content for their current campaign: the #dontbeboring hashtag.
Verify Your Address
And that hashtag is important, particularly if you want to be able to win a free tee-shirt or possibly a free pair of sneakers (not shoes)!
Check-in on Foursquare, effectively verifying you are in fact at The Fader Fort, and you "unlock" the Fader Fort badge. Your location is now documented.
At the time of this writing, there were 6,688 checkins and 477 photos taken with Foursquare.
No Concept of Privacy
This level of ubiquitous documentation is simply unprecedented.
But it doesn't stop there. While walking around the grounds of the Fader Fort, I noticed countless people recording video and taking photos EVERYWHERE. Whether people were taking selfies or just capturing what was going on around them, I could not hide from a camera lens. I was now a part of this documented experience, whether I liked it or not.
To the mainly young crowd in attendance at the Fader Fort, it would seem downright weird to not be self-documenting and sharing the entire experience. Why would one not just be Instagramming or Vine-ing everything, regardless of whom may be captured in it? This is what it's all about!
As young adults, adolescents, pre-adolescents and children grow up in a world of non-stop self-documentation and sharing, what will their definition of privacy actually be? And will our (ahem, we adults) definition of privacy even matter? Probably not.