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Social Web: The Art of Voyeurism

Exploring Social Media article series badgeAs I’ve been developing my ongoing series on the called “Exploring Social Media,” I’m constantly intrigued and nauseated at the new voyeurism that is sweeping our world and our online social life. It’s freedom of speech and expression meets voyeurism, changing the word-of-mouth gossip world forever.

With the recent announcement of a new feature in Woopra, I think the walls that divide us socially are going to crumble to the ground.

A Blog is Your Soap Box; Twitter and YouTube Your Show-off

In the earliest days of blogging, a blog was a personal space for people to have their say. That is what started , the need to make the process of having your say publicly on the web to be easier. People would set up a WordPress blog as themselves or anonymously, believing them had something to say worth reading, and worth publishing. Some took it seriously, while others blogged anything and everything that popped into their mind. How I envy that freedom of expression sometimes.

has worked tirelessly to ensure that as a hosted blogging service stays free and open to anyone around the world with an opinion. He and his team fight constantly to not help those living in places that ban access to in violation of the true spirit of freedom of speech, as do bloggers around the world threatened by others, lawsuits, and governments to shut up. It challenges the courts to keep up with online defamation and libel issues as we all want our say on the web.

There is freedom of speech and then there is responsibility for that freedom, which many ignore as they spill their guts publicly. With the growing level of information we put out on the web and the risk to our security and privacy, we keep having our say, showing off our dirty laundry, reveling in the peeping tom thrill of it all.

Example of personal information posted on TwitterThere are those who want to say whatever they want and publish it, and there are those who just thrive in the virtual voyeurism that comes with the online social web. Being a peeping tom is easier than ever today as people open up their lives to the web world.

When people follow you on , they are inviting you into their space. In some cases, it’s their office. In others, it’s their home. In other cases, it’s literally their virtual bedroom. Not the bedroom for romantic affairs, but the bedroom we used to race to with our childhood friends to play cars and trucks, dolls and games, and in later years, to gossip and share secrets.

We watch their tweets scroll down our Twitter client, whether we want them there or not, and get a peek into their lives. We read their tweets as they get up in the morning, go to bed, take meal and snack breaks, debate over food options and dining choices. We see them struggle with relationships, family, children, and parents. Friends send cryptic messages back and forth in their own lingo while we try to figure out what they mean. In between all this, advice and help is exchanged, business deals started and ended, and a thread of the social work life winds its way in and out of personal revelations and gossip.

We even thread those tweets into our WordPress blogs and our blogs into our tweets. The seamless transparency between these mediums is almost gone.

As the web becomes more visual, we bring the pictures along with the words or replace the words with images on our blogs.

With the success of , anyone can now literally open the visual door to their life, telling their story, or capturing an embarrassing moment in the lives of others. One of the most popular videos on YouTube and other video services are the ones I call “stupid human tricks.” We love watching others make fools of themselves. I credit the television show “America’s Funniest Home Videos” for starting that trend in voyeurism, which has lead to “Survivor” and other shows where the camera moves into people’s day-to-day lives.

Pushing Online Voyeurism to the Next Level

So it’s appropriate that announce they’ve added a new feature for the next version of the popular live and real-time statistics and analytics program that takes social media voyeurism to the next level.

In Announcing Woopra’s New Webcam Enablement Feature, John Pozadzides, CEO of , shares a sneak preview video of the latest addition.

woopra-avatarUsing Woopra is a kind of voyeurism. You can track what visitors do live on your site as they click around and move through it. If they login or leave a comment, and Gravatars are enabled, you can see their avatars and their Visitor ID numbers become names. Visitor #24589 becomes Fred Smith. It changes how you think about your visitors.

One of the most popular features of Woopra is the Live Chat [currently under reconstruction] which allows the webmaster or blogger to chat live with any visitor on their site, without the need to install anything. People are breaking the website wall to interact with visitors.

The newest feature goes one step beyond both of these:

Woopra, the world’s fastest growing Web Analytics provider, today announced that the next version of its wildly popular real-time Website monitoring application will allow users to remotely activate and view Website visitor’s built-in Webcams.

The company’s chief scientist, Dr. Lirpa Sloof, said, “Woopra already provides the most robust, feature rich and easy to use Web analytics available. Today we extend our market lead by integrating our latest patent-pending technology to give Webmasters more information about their visitors than ever before.”

Combined with Woopra’s unique abilities to display individual Web site visitors in real time and track them by name, this new technology levels the playing field by enabling companies and individuals alike to gain unprecedented visibility into user demographics and preferences.

Check it out. It will change the face of social interaction on the web.

Note: Woopra is currently approving 5,000 random new beta testers for the closed private beta testing. Sign up and you might get approved. Installation is easy with the Woopra WordPress Plugin. The new feature will be available in the next stable release.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network, and author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.


  1. Posted April 1, 2009 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I am going to say something here that I said on the woopra blog. Many people share my concern: PRIVACY.

    Will there be a request made to the visitor before I am able to watch them on their cam?

    I don’t want anyone watching me through my camera without my permission. I will be nude from now on and trust me it is not a pretty site.

    my host and a/v have text live chats. why do we need the video option? that will be crossing the privacy line to a lot of people.

    If you come to my office building, there is a secretary in the front that sort of filters out people (EVERY business out there with one does that too). If I don’t want to see you then the secretary will tell you I am not here or I am way too busy.

    This Woopra viewing option will mean you can come directly to my office (not that I wouldn’t mind drinking tea and eating biscuits with you but…)…do you get the idea?

    I can lose a lot of visitors if they know I can watch them whenever i feel like.

  2. Posted April 1, 2009 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    You REALLY got me this morning, Lorelle. 😀 Even before I headed over to Woopra’s site, I knew I’d been had. But I took it in good humor. It’s unfortunate that so many of the commenters at Woopra didn’t read the comments above theirs, though.

    Good joke; I enjoyed it, as did many of my fellow WoW bloggers with whom I shared the link.

    • Posted April 1, 2009 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

      @Kestrel: Glad you enjoyed the joke. We had a great time putting all that together, a nice short break from the sleepless days of code and support. We are becoming a voyeuristic society, but this one was pushing the envelop. What scares me is that so many people took it seriously, which means this could be in our future. It also explains why the video phone has still never taken off. 😀

  3. Avery Gum
    Posted April 2, 2009 at 3:24 am | Permalink

    i should try Woopra! the internet now has gone so beyond the walls that it has many effects to men. but whether or not the effects are good, ill try woopra! 🙂 thanks!

  4. Posted April 2, 2009 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    Surely Skype / GoogleTalk etc are the new video phone? It’s being used but it’s all about opting in. Yes I know it was a joke but it’s not surprising that people would be up in arms if such a thing were ever to really happen.

    I guess it could happen even now if a virus infected an operating system and caused it to remotely access the web cam. I always keep my web cam covered when not in use, just in case 😉

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