Too Many Secrets

If you’ve seen the movie “Sneakers” you’ll recognize the title as one of the tipping points in that very good film. I was reminded of it over the weekend as I started to try and wrap my head around a relatively new app and social service called, Secret. A very peculiar app because the social service does what the others don’t do — it keeps your identity away from everything you share. All your posts, comments, and likes are completely anonymous. While other social networks (twitter, Facebook, google+ instagram, etc) work to build your online identity, Secret does not. From Boy Genius Report,

When first installed, the app digs into the contacts you already have in your iPhone’s phonebook and links you to each and every one that also has Secret installed. There are no accounts, profiles or contact lists and you cannot “friend” other Secret users from within the app. Messages and photos you share are visible to everyone you know who also has Secret installed. If they “like” a post, it spreads and becomes visible to all of their contacts. And so on.

SecretThere are so many things that fascinate me here. The primary reason is the idea that a percentage of us are beginning to be socially obsessed with being unrecognizable online. It might be the NSA, but the rise of disappearing snips of content being delivered by our devices is on the rise — just listen to anyone under 30 talk about Snapchat or Facebook’s Poke and you’ll see there is new value in secrecy … or in just perceived secrecy as the case may be. I suspect we will see a lot more of these apps that allow you send and receive, post and like, and just participate with people without the fear of discovery and reuse. That will be an interesting space to watch.

The app is quite simple. All you see is a scrolling list of secrets posted from people you are either directly or indirectly connected to. If you want to participate in a secret you give it a like or leave a comment. Once you do that you are connected to that secret and are following it. Will it succeed? I have no idea, but as a concept it is interesting.

5 thoughts on “Too Many Secrets

  • February 24, 2014 at 9:20 am
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    Interesting…and scary. I am finishing up a module on Cyberbullying and the first thought I have after reading about “Secret” is that this gives kids/teens an easy avenue in which to embarrass or harm others online anonymously.

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    • February 24, 2014 at 9:32 am
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      I agree. I wonder how the lack of identity on posts will change things? I would keep embedded social networks from seeing it as easily. In other words, if there isn’t a loop of friends, it will make it harder to spread a post. But it is something I was wondering. Nice to hear your voice!

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  • February 24, 2014 at 10:26 am
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    It could encourage those who over-worry about attribution to loosen up and join some conversations. We love the metaphor of conversation but we fixate on capturing and documenting it rather than on just having it. We don’t need to capture and document everything, and in fact it’s probably counter-productive to do that in certain situations anyway. We need a rhetoric of secret!

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    • February 24, 2014 at 10:49 am
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      “We love the metaphor of conversation but we fixate on capturing and documenting it rather than on just having it.” I like that notion quite a bit. I am as guilty as anyone WRT wanting to capture and attribute things across all “conversations.” I never really thought of the alternative. I had a concept running for some time that I was calling, “horizontal conversations” that was essentially a way to capture and own your own comments made on other people’s content so even if they deleted their original post you held onto your contribution … in a lot of ways that could be important, but in just as many ways any contributions can lose meaning when pulled away from the original conversation starter.

      I think poking at this from the side of the “rhetoric of secret” can open new ways of looking at online discourse. I’d love to see something like this in and around teaching, learning, and scholarship in general. I really think there are lessons to be learned from this whole “secret” concept.

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  • February 24, 2014 at 10:56 am
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    I’m totally with you here. One of our key jobs is to map the full landscape of communication options and to help students (and ourselves) think strategically about when and how to employ it.

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