Robert J. Hansen rjh at
Wed Mar 23 20:32:16 CET 2011

On 3/23/11 3:06 PM, Mark H. Wood wrote:
> My suspicion is that we never had anywhere near as much privacy as
> many believe.  A hundred years ago...

I grew up in a small town of under 5,000, where the nearest city of more
than 20,000 was an hour's drive away.  Forget "a hundred years ago":
having been back there recently for a funeral, I can tell you small
towns are still that same way today.

In a sense, I think this validates my thesis.  In a small town the cost
of sharing information about people within the town, to people within
the town, is just about nil: you wind up having these conversations
while you're at the service station filling up your tank, when you're in
line at the grocery store, when you're ... etc.  But having these same
conversations with people outside the town involves effort, which in
turn means that you can travel 100 miles and be reasonably confident
nobody there has heard of you.

I agree that the small-town phenomenon argues against the idea of an
idyllic privacy past.  I just think modern communications means the
entire world is turning into a small-town phenomena.

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