The other evening a bunch of us were sitting in a friend’s living room while a series of photos scrolled across her TV. The photos were a screen saver served up by her new Apple TV box. Some of the pictures were of people, birds, flowers, cats and other typical stuff. But in the mix were also shots of price tags, bar codes, bags of mulch and other stuff she had thought about buying at some point.
“What are those doing there?” somebody asked.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I thought I threw those away.”
“That’s scary,” somebody said. “What if some of your shots were nude selfies, or porn?”
“I don’t have that,” she replied. “But I don’t like not knowing why shots I never intended to share are showing up on my TV.”
Even though most people in the room were Apple customers, and some knew a bit about Apple TV, the room itself had no clear sense about how Apple TV decides what photos to show, or whether the photos on the screen come from the user’s phone, laptop or iCloud (the non-place where Apple may or may not store some or all of what customers shoot with their cameras or phones). So finally a rough agreement emerged out of collective un-knowing.
“It’s probably the cloud,” somebody said.
“Yeah, the damn cloud,” another agreed. What else to blame than the most vague thing they all knew?
Then my wife said something that knocked me over.
“The cloud has boundary issues.”
Her point was about the psychology of the cloud, not its technology. In psychology, boundary issues show up when one person doesn’t respect the boundaries set by another. And in today’s networked world, personal boundaries are ignored as a matter of course, mostly because people don’t have ways to set them.
Written by Doc Searls