SHARING and communicating are essential components of being human.
Still a new generation of Web sites like Dscover.me, Sitesimon.com and Voyurl.com is banking on our willingness to take that next step toward taking our lives public: namely, by automatically tracking personal browsing histories for public viewing.
Paul Jones, a founder of Dscover.me, said he and his founding partner conceived the site because they were old college friends and wanted a way to better share common interests, from shopping finds to tech news, while living in different parts of the country.
At times, their communication would drop off, Mr. Jones said. “Then, at one point we just said to each other, ‘What if we could just show each other what we’re reading and watching and shopping for?’ ”
But are these sites another crack in the eroding wall between public and private life?
Perhaps. The better question: Do we actually care if they are? As Mr. Jones noted, Facebook’s News Feed, the feature that lets users easily track friends’ activity in one place, was somewhat controversial when it was introduced in 2006.
“Obviously, now, it’s completely accepted and people who are younger, in particular, just accept it that their lives are completely open,” Mr. Jones said. (The jury is still assembling for these sites: Dscover.me has been open to everyone since November; Sitesimon and Voyurl are accepting users on a rolling basis, but will open fully in the coming months.)
Controversy is, of course, part of the appeal. Sharing feels a little risky, and entire Nevada cities are built atop the inescapable truth that risk can be fun. On the consumer end, it’s also fun to spy and is a great way to find content and see what’s trending.
Yet it’s hard to imagine anyone choosing to share one’s entire browsing history. There are the obvious “me time” indulgences that want hiding. But what about researching an embarrassing ailment? What about online dating, or banking?
- Early Users Let Voyurl Spy on Their Web Browsing (observer.com)
- Why 3 Startups Are Betting That You’ll Want to Stream Your Browser History (mashable.com)
- 5 Web Technologies and Trends to Watch in 2011 (mashable.com)
- Privacy Alert: Online Stalking Just Got Easier (socialtimes.com)
- Sitesimon encourages you to spy on your friend’s web activity (thenextweb.com)
- The Future of Digital Footprints & IDs (bigthink.com)