The Peep Diaries The Peep Diaries: 2012-03-21T10:47:18Z Copyright (c) 2011, Hal ExpressionEngine,2011:02:15 Interview in Globe and and Live Chat on Globe site Tomorrow,2011:home/Hal/2.2479 2011-02-15T15:02:17Z 2012-03-21T14:47:18Z Hal Here’s an interview with me in the Globe and Mail, mostly talking about the making of the documentary “Peep Culture”. I talk Peep, family, the future…anyway, check it out.

Hal Niedzviecki gets deep into the peep culture - The Globe and Mail_1297781843000

Also tomorrow (Wed Feb 16 at 11am) I’ll be doing a live chat with Globe and Mail tv critic Andrew Ryan if anybody wants to drop by and ask questions. The live chat will be happening here.

First Screening of Peep Culture: The Documentary,2011:home/Hal/2.2396 2011-01-14T16:59:40Z 2012-02-05T03:46:42Z Hal Peep Culture: The Documentary is done!

It will have its Canadian premiere across the land on CBC News Network 10pm (est) February 16th as part of the CBC’s Passionate Eye documentary series. 

Check out the official trailer on the main page!

Full Body Scanners and Confessional Culture,2010:home/Hal/2.2362 2010-12-23T15:37:40Z 2012-02-05T03:46:42Z Hal Really interesting piece in the Washington Post about Full Body Scanners, confessional culture, privacy and the decisions we make. I’m quoted as well, in the course of connecting our decision to go through a full body scanner or not to the rise of Peep Culture.

From the article:

More broadly, we have made peace with our confessional culture. If we are outwardly ambivalent that moments of deep personal anguish and light mundanity are processed into entertainment without much distinction on reality TV and YouTube, we nevertheless eagerly consume it all. We vote with links clicked and cookies accepted.

Even surveillance itself becomes titillation. As Hal Niedzviecki, a cultural commentator in Toronto and author of “The Peep Diaries,” points out, the evening news features surveillance camera footage of bungled convenience store robberies. Dash-cam arrest videos show up online. Niedzviecki calls the current state of things “peep culture.”

“Peep culture conditions us to want to use our privacy to achieve things,” says Niedzviecki, who suggests this breeds a kind of passivity, a failure to ask questions. “It’s not, ‘Oh, no, no, you can’t ask me to give this up.’ It’s, ‘Sure, you can have it, but what am I getting back?’”

In other words, we often feel we’re exercising control over what we give up. And we tend to focus on what we think we’re getting: security, social mobility, convenience, the validation of fellow Twitterati.

So, yes, the vast majority of us will continue to go through the full-body scanners. We will do it most of all because we hope the new technology makes us safer, but also because we’re in a rush, because we don’t want to make a fuss, because we don’t want to find out just how “enhanced” a pat-down can be, because we don’t even know what a full-body scanner is. We will do it because we’ve been inured to giving up things when we go to the airport, and it stinks, sure, but this is the price of flying in a scary age. We will do it because thinkingly or unthinkingly we have concluded this is a good bargain.

Peep Talk in Windsor, Ontario,2010:home/Hal/2.2235 2010-11-04T20:48:02Z 2012-02-05T03:48:03Z Hal Come on out if you are in the area!
Free event!
Tuesday, November 9
8:00pm - 9:30pm
Location: Green Bean Cafe
2320 Wyandotte St W.
Windsor, ON
Facebook event link here.
Hal Niedzviecki brings the Peep to Windsor in a public presentation based on his critically acclaimed book The Peep Diaries: How We’re Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors (City Lights Books).

About the Talk: Join Hal as he chronicles the shift from Pop Culture to Peep Culture. In this lively presentation, Hal will explore everything from streets lined with surveillance cameras and daycares equipped with webcams to citizens eager to track themselves. Behind all those cameras, cell phones and profiles are real people. Hal will introduce you to, among others, the digicam vigilante behind, the masterminds of Twitter, a Star Wars obsessed sex slave housewife blogger, and so much more!

Facebook, Catfish and Peep,2010:home/Hal/2.2217 2010-10-10T12:24:02Z 2012-02-05T03:48:03Z Hal Some interesting thoughts in this piece with the main theme: “in the world of social media, nothing is real”.

Very refreshing to read something thoughtful that connects the various silo-ed categories media usually puts this stuff in. Which is to say that the writer, Denise Ryan, looks at a the doc-moc trend, and explores the way ‘networking’ is changing in the era of social media, and takes a snapshot of the big picture of Peep Culture. 

All that plus commentary from yours truly and a shout out to my upcoming talk at Canzine West!

Friends in the face of Facebook_1286712668152

Peep is Coming to Vancouver,2010:home/Hal/2.2204 2010-09-30T16:33:02Z 2012-02-05T03:48:03Z Hal Hey everyone, I’ll be doing a Peep talk in Vancouver as part of Canzine West: festival of zines and underground culture. I’ll be talking about the rise of Peep Culture and exploring Peep phenomenon specifically as they pertain to independent culture creators, namely: is Peep the triumph of indie, or its destruction? So, if you are in the Vancouver area, please drop by. And there’s tons more stuff going on at Canzine West!

Canzine West runs from 1–7pm and the Peep Talk happens from 2–3pm.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

at Canzine West

W2 Storyeum

Vancouver—151 West Cordova Street

$5 admission comes with a free copy of the Fall issue of Broken Pencil Magazine – issue 49 “Last Puppet Standing” 



Why Peep Trumps Privacy,2010:home/Hal/2.2182 2010-08-19T11:51:02Z 2012-02-05T03:48:03Z Hal Hey everyone, here’s a short piece I wrote for AOLnews about why, despite all the warnings about privacy online, we just can’t bring ourselves to care nearly as much as we should. 

A taste: “Oh but haven’t recent polls demonstrated that we are more concerned than ever about our privacy online? Sure they have. But they have also shown that our concern doesn’t actually translate into action. We may tell pollsters we are concerned about our privacy, but we don’t actually do much about it. Surprisingly few of us can actually be bothered to adjust the privacy settings available to us. (A Pew Research Study put the number of us who change Facebook privacy settings in the 25 percent to 44 percent range, which is to say that not even half of us are motivated to protect our most intimate details by taking five minutes to click a few buttons.)”

Read in full:

Opinion- From Pop Culture to Peep Culture_1282218371742

Death on Facebook,2010:home/Hal/2.2152 2010-07-21T14:20:02Z 2012-02-05T03:48:03Z Hal Here’s an article in the New York Times about how Facebook is struggling to deal with the pages of deceased. They used to delete them. Now family or friends can request to have the page turned into a memorial, frozen in time save for the comments that those who have already been accepted as ‘friends’ can continue to post.

The assumption from Facebook (not questioned by the Times) is that this problem can be solved through technology –  we just need better algorithms more capable of determining when someone has died so that their page can be then locked down with all necessary sensitivity.

As Older Users Join Facebook, Network Grapples With Death - NYTimes.com_1279721167196

But our widespread embrace of Peep Culture suggests that we might want something else: new ways to continue living on through social media after our deaths. Why should the dead not be allowed to have any new ‘friends’ (when, after all, those friends are entirely virtual and illusory anyway?). Why can’t the dead decline to attend events, leave comments on other people’s pages, etc. etc. Why shouldn’t the dead continue to discuss their own wants and needs?

Perhaps in the future we will pay people to continue to maintain our various profiles and blogs after we are gone? (In the Jewish tradition, it is not uncommon to hire a  Yeshiva student to say  the required daily prayers Jewish law requires be said for the dead.) I know, I know, this is getting pretty weird. Nonetheless, the dead have more in common than the living when it comes to their online presence. The dead are disembodied, the dead are virtual, the dead exist only in the bits and bytes of our imaginations. And the dead, like our Facebook profiles, live on forever, long after we are gone.


Peep Diaries in the London Review of Books,2010:home/Hal/2.2144 2010-06-20T00:32:33Z 2012-02-05T03:44:34Z Hal The Peep Diaries is described as a “bracingly informal book” in a 5 book essay/review that appeared in the recent issue of the London Review of Books. Check out the whole piece here. The other books discussed are

The Accidental Billionaires: Sex, Money, Betrayal and the Founding of Facebook by Ben Mezrich
The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social Network Sites, Games and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future by Craig Watkins
Stealing MySpace: The Battle to Control the Most Popular Website in America by Julia Angwin
The Tyranny of Email: The Four Thousand Year Journey to your Inbox by John Freeman


Debating Reality TV on TV Ontario,2010:home/Hal/2.2140 2010-06-18T20:48:33Z 2012-02-05T03:44:34Z Hal Last week I was on a long panel discussion about the impact of Reality TV on culture and society. A lot of interesting points were made. You can watch the whole thing here.

The Agenda - Broadcast - Stan Sudol- Will the Strike Ever End- - Reality TV at 10_1276893977110

My Reaction to Reaction Videos Article in Washington Post,2010:home/Hal/2.2055 2010-04-20T18:08:33Z 2012-02-05T03:44:34Z Hal Actually the headline should read: My reaction to the Reaction Videos article in the Washington Post that quotes my reaction to Reaction Videos. Got that?

Well, it doesn’t really matter. Check out the article, the piece does a nice job with the whole reaction video phenomenon. My take on it gets mocked (see the end of the piece), but I probably deserve it.

Wait 'Til You See This- Reaction Shots to Viral Videos_1271786632766

Las Vegas TV Explores Surveillance Society with Hal,2010:home/Hal/2.2018 2010-03-24T15:17:33Z 2012-02-05T03:44:34Z Hal recently did a special segment on Living in the Surveillance Society. I comment throughout. You can read the article and watch the two 4 minute videos here. It’s well done  and their conclusion is important, if slightly vague – “Users sacrifice privacy, getting the power of the Internet in return.” What I wonder is if “users” even see giving up privacy as a “sacrifice”? And what, exactly, do they (we) get in return?



Peep Doc - Shooting (Faking) Again,2010:home/Hal/2.2004 2010-03-16T15:06:33Z 2012-02-05T03:44:34Z Hal Hey everyone, we’re down in my basement all day today shooting what’s called “pick-up” shots for Peep Me – the Peep Culture documentary. Basically we’re going back and “recreating” or you might even say “faking” shots we now realize we need, but didn’t get the first time around. We’ve just spent the last hour trying to recreate the look below, which is a frame from the movie shot in the summer. 

Hal's basement office

Once we get it just right (though my hair is a bit shorter, can’t do much about that) I’m mostly going to be pretending to be seeing things on my computer that I’ve already seen. We need more shots of me reacting to things to use as connecting scenes in the doc. I’ve written about the fake/real of the process of the doc shoot before, like the time they made me take out the trash about 10 times. At least it was garbage day!

Peep in the News: Location Sharing and “Super-Sized” Mom,2010:home/Hal/2.2001 2010-03-16T12:58:33Z 2012-02-05T03:44:34Z Hal From the New York Times: an article on the rise of online location sharing. The new thing is Foursquare, which lets you check-in at a location and share with “friends”. That’s opposed to the Google Lattitude model which just constantly broadcasts your location once you’ve enabled the service on your smart phone. This phenomenon is, of course, an offshoot of Peep – these services are sold as lifestyle enhancers, basically a value added component to your social networking online persona. (Look for Facebook and Twitter to introduce location based services soon…) Yelp, for instance, is using it to give more validity to certain reviews – if you’ve “checked in” and proven you were there, your review is apparently going to have more credibility. In other words, pay more attention to this particular person: they’re really real and they’ve proved it.

Now let’s check in with Donna Simpson. An article on her (which is itself Peep since it has no other redeeming factor beyond providing us with entertainment based on someone else’s everyday life) documents the quest of this already very obese woman to reach 1,000 pounds. She’s already in the Guiness World Record books as “the world’s fattest mother.” My favourite peep detail: she finances her $750 a week grocery bill by eating fast food online in front of men with a plus-sized  woman fetish.

Super-sized mother determined to become world's fattest woman in two years - Mail Online_1268743891001

Comes complete with nice Peep pic of mom using scooter to shop with her kid!


Mommy Bloggers Go to Corporate Boot Camp,2010:home/Hal/2.1999 2010-03-13T19:50:33Z 2012-02-05T03:44:34Z Hal This piece in the New York Times talks about how mommy blogging is being infiltrated by corporate giveaways, ads, and sponsorships. Though it doesn’t get into the whole issue of using your kid’s life to develop your brand, it does have some eye popping stats about how many women are writing and reading mommy blogs.