Six impossible things before breakfast.

A library science student's perspective on life, the universe, and everything.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


PostSecret is a project that I have followed weekly for years. There is something very moving about seeing the darkest nightmares and sweetest aspirations of faceless individuals shared with the Internet and humanity at large. People all over the world create postcards, usually a mixture of text and images, and send them to the founder and maintainer of the PostSecret website, Frank Warren, who selects postcards to post online every week. Postcards are usually intensely personal as people make use of the anonymity provided to shed tears, express guilt, or celebrate an unspoken triumph. For readers of the project, these unveiled secrets are often either tremendously inspirational or deeply convicting.

Recently I have found myself thinking about PostSecret slightly differently. The site is kind of an epitome of the universal appeal of the Internet's anonymity. Contributors, commenters, and consumers (i.e. viewers) are all completely anonymous participants in the act of information sharing. On PostSecret the information shared may be different from what you find on other websites or what you think about from the strictest sense of a library science perspective on information sharing, but I think the concept still applies. What is it about a state of anonymity that makes us communicate differently--some might even say better? The literature talks about the Internet as a "low risk environment" and a third zone outside of home and work where people can seek community and discover information they wouldn't be exposed to in other places. A lot of research has been done and is being done about the role of the Internet in our daily lives, but it's a pretty difficult topic to nail down. I just think it's kind of odd that the Internet simultaneously functions as a method of connection, to keep ourselves linked to others, and a shield we hold between ourselves and the outside world.

PostSecret is updated every Sunday. If you read the site regularly, it won't be long until you start to see postcards that you could have written yourself.

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