The Peep Diaries
How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors
Hal Niedzviecki gets deep into the peep culture
Feb 14, 2011
"As a Toronto-based writer and social commentator (and frequent contributor to The Globe and Mail), Niedzviecki has examined the roles of media and pop culture in the eight books he has penned. At the same time, the 38-year-old husband and father has consciously avoided modern technology and social networking. No cellphone, Facebook account or Twitter followers for him. But he knew the territory. Niedzviecki explored the topic in his 2009 The Peep Diaries, which was selected by Oprah Winfrey's O magazine as one of that summer’s must-read books."
Andrew Ryan, The Globe and Mail
First Person: Hal Niedzviecki on Peep Culture
Feb 15, 2011
"'Peep Culture' is the phrase I coined to explain the culture of voyeurism and entertainment. We are learning to entertain ourselves by watching each other go about our everyday lives — our friends, our neighbours and random strangers around the world. We have this whole other kind of popular culture, which is everything from viral videos to blogs about your sex life to tweets about what you ate for dinner."
Melissa Leong, National Post
London Review of Books
"'Blog posts, images, videos, tweets, dating profiles and friend updates', [Niedzviecki] says, are creating a culture without privacy, a culture of 'wanting to know everything about everyone and, in turn, wanting to make sure that everyone knows everything about us. [He] argues that the handful of people who walk about with digital cameras on their heads, so that they can put every part of every day online, and the people who beg to be contestants on reality TV shows, are simply extremes of the Peep that engulfs us all."
" . . . 'The Peep Diaries' sheds light on the darker corners of the rapid changes in how we communicate, the repercussions of such a shift in paradigm and the root causes for its embrace." —Kyle Armstrong
Reality TV Show Filmed While 7-Year-Old Killed in Detroit Police Raid
May 23, 2010
"There is outrage in Detroit after a funeral for a 7-year-old girl who was shot in the neck and killed by police in a raid on her family's home. The whole time, a reality TV crew following the police was filming right outside."
Eric Horng, Good Morning America
Do TV Cameras Make Cops More Aggressive?
May 19, 2010
"DETROIT — When police burst into a home in search of a murder suspect, a reality TV crew documented the raid – and may have recorded the death of a 7-year-old girl accidentally killed by an officer [...]
Having a reality camera crew along on a police raid contributes to a culture that reduces everything to mere entertainment, said Hal Niedzviecki, author of 'The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors.'"
Corey Williams and Jeff Karoub, The Huffington Post
Feature: Social Distortion
Jan 8, 2010
"In last year's hit book The Peep Diaries, Hal Niedzviecki explored the different ways 'we're learning to love watching ourselves and our neighbors' in what he defines as 'peep culture.' Technology is changing the way we communicate. And is it for the better or worse? I'm not so sure. As my dad used to tell me horror stories about 'walking 10 miles to school in the snow,' I'm part of the generation that will boast, 'I went to college for six years without a computer.' No Internet. No Google. And I survived just fine. Instead of e-mailing I'd pick up the phone. Or write a letter. Or—strange as it sounds—go visit friends and hang out with them for the evening."
Beth Allen, Pacific Sun
Dec 12, 2009
Definitely Not The Opera asks, "Why do we want to know so much about other people?"
Definitely Not the Opera, CBC Radio
My dark-horse nominee for book of the year
Dec 9, 2009
"It's strange not only what we share but how compulsive we have become about sharing. And it goes beyond sharing. In person, we can be private, almost secretive. Behind one of these keyboards, we’re eager to tell you our most intimate secrets.
Maybe this is driven by loneliness. Maybe it’s the modern way we’ve come to deal with lives of quiet desperation. Part of it might have to do with the delirious pursuit of fame. People want to become famous not by actually doing anything noteworthy. They just want to be famous, as if fame is a birthright.
This has been much on my mind lately because of The Peep Diaries (City Lights Books, $17.95) by Hal Niedzviecki (above). This book has preoccupied me since it came out in the summer and I’m wondering if it might end up being one of those prescient, influential books like David Reisman’s The Lonely Crowd.
As everyone else starts the December look back at the year, this is my dark-horse nominee for most significant book of 2009."
William McKeen, The Daily Loaf
"The Peep Diaries is a crash course in the many ways our culture exposes itself and an investigative, often humorous look at just how attention-starved and lonely the majority of people are. Talking with many of the average Joes who expose themselves through tweets, blogs, posts and webcams, Niedzviecki . . . [argues that] the more we become connected by computers through our obsessions with 'reality,' the more disconnected we become from reality."
Hal Niedzviecki on KDVS
Nov 29, 2009
'This week on the four o'clock hour my guest will be Hal Niedzviecki, author of The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors (City Lights, 2009).
'A snapshot of a world in profound transformation. Compelling and creepy.' - Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine and No Logo.
'If you've found yourself obessively posting to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube - and becoming a little uneasy about how it's changing your life - you should read this book. The Peep Diaries is a superb investigation into how technology is shifting the landscape of our private lives.' - Clive Thompson, Wired magazine columnist."
Justin Desmangles, KDVS
"The Toronto-based social commentator presents a compelling case that more and more of us want to know everything we can about everyone else and want everyone else to know almost everything about us. This is Peep culture, and Niedzviecki declares that it represents the most fundamental transformation of Western society since the Industrial Revolution."
The Globe and Mail
"Social critic and indie-culture poster boy Hal Niedzviecki explores, with humour and insight, how we got hooked up to this IV drip of perpetual connectivity, of watching and being watched. It's a great read; it mixes frank interviews with people pushing the boundaries of voyeurism and exhibitionism, alongside a bracing critique of the social context that got us into peep culture and the forces that now exploit our participation in it."
"The celebrated Toronto-based indie-cultural commentator offers a stinging critique of our mass move towards erasing privacy, as online social networking sites, reality TV and an obsession with celebrity encourage us to display our every detail to the entire world. An important book that encourages critical thinking about how this shift affects our society and communities."
Books Quarterly: Books for the Big Thinker
Nov 28, 2009
"Our winter books quarterly presents book suggestions for everyone you know...
The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors
By Hal Niedzviecki
The Toronto-based social commentator presents a compelling case that more and more of us want to know everything we can about everyone else and want everyone else to know almost everything about us. This is Peep culture, and Niedzviecki declares that it represents the most fundamental transformation of Western society since the Industrial Revolution. Don Butler, Canwest News Service."
Brad Frenette, National Post
The 2009 Globe Books 100: Social Studies - The best reviewed social studies releases of the year
Nov 27, 2009
"THE PEEP DIARIES: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors
By Hal Niedzviecki, City Lights, 296 pages, $18.95
Social critic and indie-culture poster boy Hal Niedzviecki explores, with humour and insight, how we got hooked up to this IV drip of perpetual connectivity, of watching and being watched. It's a great read; it mixes frank interviews with people pushing the boundaries of voyeurism and exhibitionism, alongside a bracing critique of the social context that got us into peep culture and the forces that now exploit our participation in it."
Nora Young, The Globe and Mail
Holiday Gift Guide: Books -Relax, read a little
Nov 26, 2009
"Take a holiday from the flickering screen and settle into a noteworthy novel and some comfortable Cancon:
The Peep Diaries, by Hal Niedzviecki (City Lights Publishers), 256 pp.
The celebrated Toronto-based indie-cultural commentator offers a stinging critique of our mass move towards erasing privacy, as online social networking sites, reality TV and an obsession with celebrity encourage us to display our every detail to the entire world. An important book that encourages critical thinking about how this shift affects our society and communities. (SC)"
Richard Burnett, Stefan Christoff, Robyn Fadden, Melora Koepke and MJ Stone, The Hour
"Niedzviecki avoids the doomsaying that plagues so much commentary about sociotechnological change. While he discusses Peep's troubling implications for privacy, surveillance, and criminal justice, he also recognizes that interconnectivity can be empowering, educational, and entertaining. Peep’s potential to add value to our lives deserves such reflective appreciation."
Oct 1, 2009
"An audio recording featuring a Sean Connery voice introduced the host, Hal Niedzviecki, who promised we'd 'see a lot of him' that evening. Instead of asking us to turn off all cell phones, he encouraged us to turn them on, and, if we so pleased, to Tweet onto his Twitter page displayed on the wall.
I had the good fortune of interviewing Niedzviecki, a U of T graduate and former Varsity editor, just before the event. He recently published The Peep Diaries: How We’re Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbours, which discusses the evolution of pop culture, and more specifically, what he calls peep culture. Niedzviecki explains this new phenomenon as the use of Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and smartphones—basically, anything that allows people to 'track' each other—to document one’s life from cradle to grave."
Nat Cooper, the Varsity.ca
Peep This: Hal Niedzviecki at U of A Tonight
Oct 19, 2009
"AAAAAAAAHHHHH! OMG you guys!
I am so excited for today! I haven't been this amped for anything since August 5.
It's Hal Niedzviecki day!
For those of you not familiar with his work, allow me to debrief you (that's what she said).
Hal is one of my favourite writers, this terrific social critic and fiction writer from Toronto. He co-founded Broken Pencil magazine. He’s written a bunch of great books, like Hello, I’m Special: How Individuality Became the New Conformity, We Want Some Too: Underground Desire and the Re-invention of Mass Culture and Ditch. His newest work, The Peep Diaries: How We’re Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbours is going gangbusters; he’s currently working on a documentary on the same topic and living his life online for the sake of science, via twitter, facebook, youtube, and more. He’s even made O Magazine’s list of top 25 summer reads (something that I find deeply impressive, because I straight up love my O Magazine, people)."
'Peep culture' guru offers troubling view of Internet obsession
Oct 11, 2009
"The interview with Hal Niedzviecki is off to a limping start.
The Canadian culture critic answers the phone in a distracted sort of way, with the sound of click-clicking in the background.
I know that sound. It's the sound of attention in split screen: Phone conversation one side, Internet conversation on the other.
Me: 'Are you addicted to the Internet, Hal?'
Niedzviecki: 'No. Maybe. Yes.'
Niedzviecki's addiction at least pays off. In his new book, The Peep Diaries, he delves deep into the personal, social and cultural implications of an technological culture where regular folk broadcast life to each other."
Scott Mckeen, Edmonton News
Peeping ain't easy
Oct 8, 2009
"One could be forgiven for dismissing The Peep Diaries as yet another lurid autobiography. The title conjures images of true-life tales of a depraved and shameless voyeur. We've all seen such confessional fare cluttering shelves at the local bookshop. On closer inspection, however, Hal Niedzviecki’s latest book reveals itself to be a different beast altogether.
Subtitled How We’re Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors, the book is a reaction to, rather than product of, the show-all, tell-all culture he calls "peep." Troubled by a perceived societal shift towards self-exposure and mutual voyeurism, the Canadian cultural critic and novelist decided to find out for himself what it’s all about, immersing himself in the world of blogs, social networks, reality television and constant surveillance."
Brendan Harrison, Fastforward Weekly
When enough is too much: A look at infotainment
Oct 7, 2009
"With the explosion of social media outlets and reality television, intimate details about other people's lives have become a pervasive form of entertainment.
There's a veritable buffet of options. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and MySpace are among the online outlets, not to mention the infinite number of personal blogs. The television offerings include Survivor, The Real World, The Real Housewives and American Idol.
"Peep culture" is what Hal Niedzviecki not-so-lovingly calls this societal trend, which he examines in depth in his new book The Peep Diaries; How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors."
Brooke Kenny, Gazette.Net
Voyeurs have a new perch in New York
Sep 17, 2009
" Hal Niedzviecki, a cultural expert and author, laughs. He's not surprised by this turn toward group peeping.
'A city like New York always has people who want to be watched and enjoy watching,' he says. 'But the way society is moving, rather than feel, "Oh, my God, there are times we have to close the drapes," it's "Let's keep them open, all the time, and let whoever wants to take pictures go ahead." Under the influence of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogging, that very New York attitude is spreading around the world.'
In The Peep Diaries, published in May, Niedzviecki reflects on the ambitions and confusion of a growing number of people who are willing to trade details of their private lives for catharsis, attention and notoriety."
Geraldine Baum, Los Angeles Times
"The book is well-written, extremely funny and insightful. In the end, readers with social networks may think twice before posting certain photos, messages, and daily annoyances for the world to see." —Kacy Muir
Sep 17, 2009
"With stalker risks in mind, most [GPS applications] will only reveal the distance between users, not their exact location. They also let users block others if they become pesky.
But GPS dating also stirs numerous ethical concerns, said Hal Niedzviecki, Toronto-based author of The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors . Lately, Mr. Niedzviecki has been experimenting with Google Latitude. Launched in February, Latitude lets users see "where their friends are and what they are up to" on a map."
Zosia Bielski, The Globe and Mail
Bill Wasik and Hal Niedzviecki on why we post regrettable videos online
Sep 11, 2009
"On this week's show, Nora sits down with Bill Wasik and Hal Niedzviecki to talk about why the heck we post regrettable videos on the internet. It’s one thing to do the embarrassing or foolish or inappropriate thing, but it’s a whole other problem when we record a video and upload it on YouTube for the world to see."
"This book describes 'peep culture' as a rapidly emerging cultural phenomenon made possible by technological change. It is incarnated in so-called reality television, celebrity gossip sites, blogs, YouTube videos, social networking sites, and other media that are moving what was once private, from the mundane to the embarrassing, into the public sphere. In order to investigate 'peep culture,' the author immersed himself in virtually every aspect of it that he could, from trying out for reality television to joining every social network he could. He reports on these experiences and ruminates on the implications of 'peep culture' for entertainment, society, sex, politics, and everyday life."
Sep 10, 2009
"A panel on the ethics of reality TV: Iranian-American actor/comedian Maz Jobrani and Hal Niedzviecki."
60 Seconds with Hal Niedzviecki
Sep 1, 2009
"In The Peep Diaries (City Light Publishers, 2009), Hal Niedzviecki (BA 1994 UC) argues we've created a new "peep culture" that is altering society’s values. Lisa Bryn Rundle talks to Niedzviecki about his book and documentary airing on CBC next year."
Lisa Bryn Rundle, University of Toronto Magazine
Authors@Google: Hal Niedzviecki
Aug 25, 2009
"Author Hal Niedzviecki visits Google's Irvine, CA office to discuss his book The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors. This event took place on June 5, 2009, as a part of the Authors@Google Series."
Hal Niedzviecki, Author of "The Peep Diaries" (INTERVIEW)
Aug 14, 2009
"Hal Niedzviecki is not only an acclaimed writer, but he is also a cultural critic and the publisher of Broken Pencil, a magazine on independent culture. His new book, called The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors, was recently loved by Oprah’s Book Club and put on Oprah’s list for top summer books. 10 Questions with Hal Niedzviecki."
Trend Hunter Magazine
"Peep" Culture in the Age of Oversharing
Jul 30, 2009
"Tweeting as you head to the delivery room. Confessing your adultery on national TV. Sharing your family photos on a public website. Some people say 'TMI-- Too Much Information.' Others gobble it up and ask for more. The creation and effect of today's voyeuristic and exhibitionist culture.
Hal Niedzviecki, author of 'The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and our Neighbors' (City Lights, San Francisco); and Founder, Broken Pencil Magazine"
The Kojo Nnamdi Show, WAMU
The Washington Post Express
"If you're looking to better understand how reality TV and Twitter have become so influential, Hal Niedzviecki explores our increasingly exhibitionist culture in his new book 'The Peep Diaries.' Fear not, this is no dry academic exercise. Although Niedzviecki does have some genuine insights, 'The Peep Diaries,' as befitting a book with 'peep' in the title, is also well-stocked with salacious anecdotes. The suburban housewife blogger with fetishes for spanking and Star Wars is just one memorable example."
-- The Washington Post Express
Books With Brains: Thought-Provoking Summer Reads
Aug 5, 2009
""If you're looking to better understand how reality TV and Twitter have become so influential, Hal Niedzviecki explores our increasingly exhibitionist culture in his new book
'The Peep Diaries
.' Fear not, this is no dry academic exercise. Although Niedzviecki does have some genuine insights, "The Peep Diaries," as befitting a book with 'peep' in the title, is also well-stocked with salacious anecdotes. The suburban housewife blogger with fetishes for spanking and Star Wars is just one memorable example."
Meg Zamula, Express
Lookie-Loo: Author Hal Niedzviecki
Jul 30, 2007
"IF HE WERE alive to read Hal Niedzviecki's 'The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors,' George Orwell would be all, 'Huh. Told you so.' The author of 'Hello, I'm Special' takes on lookie-loo and oversharing culture from Twitter to Facebook to Webcams to the blogs of a housewife/sexual slave. On Thursday, he'll tell 'Stories From 'The Peep Diaries' at Miss Pixie's Backroom Palace. Prepare to be grossed out, shocked, amazed — and to recognize yourself.
EXPRESS: How have forms of social permissiveness worsened the problem of peep culture?
NIEDZVIECKI: Absolutely. There's the culture of celebrity, which is so pervasive in our society. ... We can trace that to the rise of television, really, and which sort of brought celebrity culture down to our level. All of a sudden, it started to be like, 'Wow, this is attainable for everybody,' whether it's 'Candid Camera' or a game show or a hilarious sitcom about your family."
Arion Berger, Express Night Out
Welcome to the Peepshow
Jul 30, 2009
"It's a surreal experience—interviewing a guy about an online 'lifecasting' experiment and unwittingly becoming a part of it. But if there’s one lesson we can take away from the hour we spent with Hal Niedzviecki and his surveillance equipment (in his home, no less), it’s this: we should probably get used to it. That is, we should—and you should—probably get used to being watched.
Just a few months ago, Niedzviecki (author and Broken Pencil's fiction editor) published The Peep Diaries. Both a sampling of other reali-demics’ theories and a first-person peek into peep culture, The Peep Diaries started a conversation—one that Niedzviecki decided to continue long after he’d sent his final book edits back to his publishing house (San Francisco’s unwaveringly cool City Lights Books—just in case you were curious). Lucky for Niedzviecki, he’d met a few other likeminded, peep-curious Canadians who were just as interested in telling the story of 'peep' and exploring and exploiting the culture that has emerged from this no-longer-novel (albeit ever-relevant) phenomenon."
Karen Aagaard, Torontoist
Facebook's privacy flap
Jul 29, 2009
"Hal Niedzviecki, author of the excellent The Peep Diaries, is living his entire life on camera for a documentary of the same name (so he's, you know, crazy). He thinks I’m being a tad ungenerous but doesn’t disagree entirely.
'Our society is very hypocritical about privacy,' he says. 'The ideal in our culture is the celebrity lifestyle, which is epitomized by bodyguards, limousines, private islands and giant houses surrounded by electrified fences.
'At the same time, we expect to know what our celebrities are feeling and thinking. This is the ideal of how to live – to be completely physically isolated from other people and mentally totally open.'"
Elizabeth Bromstein, NOW
Why we can't stop looking
Jul 24, 2009
"If you, like me, are somewhat private by nature, you are often made uneasy by our exceedingly confessional society, one in which friends upload photos of all things personal — kids, wild weekends, dark adolescent years — tweet their every move, or allow people to track those moves with a handheld device. Last winter, I argued with a close friend about her plan to post an unattractive photo of me on Facebook. I thought it was my prerogative to ask that the photo remain where it was — in her camera. She thought I was being narcissistic and precious, that I should get over myself. (Or, failing that, just 'untag' it.) Last fall, I hired a young woman to help me transcribe an interview, the contents of which I'd hoped would remain confidential, and she wrote about it on her blog. Then my mother began a campaign of cyber-stalking, pointing to my Facebook status updates ('Amanda is driving to the desert') as proof that I had time to come home for a visit. In the age of cyber-expression, privacy has become a near-impossible luxury.
My struggle to navigate these public-private rapids is hardly unique."
Amanda Fortini, Salon
"If Niedzviecki is right -- and he presents a disturbingly compelling case -- more and more of us share the feeling. We want to know everything we can about everyone else, and we want everyone else to know almost everything about us. . . Peep was born of our fascination for celebrity, nourished by Hollywood, television and the whole apparatus of pop culture. It drew critical sustenance from reality TV, the best-established and arguably the only profitable Peep industry, which implanted the notion that even nobodies, at least briefly, can be celebrities. But it is our embrace of social networks and other Internet sharing sites that is turning Peep into an unstoppable force with potentially profound consequences."
"[Niedzviecki] leaves us with some small but well-considered suggestions, and one big case of uneasiness about Peep technology: He urges us to be even more protective of our children's privacy, to be wary of Peep’s unintended consequences, and to be open to the pleasures of not knowing everything about everybody. The Peep Diaries is a skeptic’s screed about some crucial ways our society is transforming, and his skepticism, much like mystery, is in diminishing supply." —Nick Poppy
"Fascinating stuff. Scary, but fascinating. This is a highly enjoyable read. You may be afraid to be read it, but I think everyone should. You should know the facts, then think about how your actions have repercussions. You never know when or how they'll come back on you, whether innocent or guilty. This book provides so much real life information, such thoughtful musings, on contemporary "peep" culture and how it defines modern society. It left me wanting to know more, and I'm already reading more on the topic." —Lisa Guidarini
Hal Niedzviecki lives in public in new CBC doc
Jul 17, 2009
"Hal Niedzviecki, the Toronto-based author of The Peep Diaries (published last month by the San Francisco-based City Light Publishers), is taking his research into 'peep culture' a step further by immersing himself in the world of reality TV. As part of an upcoming CBC TV documentary film entitled Peep Me, Niedzviecki is putting his own life on display during a 30-day live webcast from his home.
The sociological experiment kicks off on July 17, when cameras in Niedzviecki's living room, kitchen, bedroom, office, and, yes, bathroom will begin recording the author as he goes about his day-to-day activities, which Niedzviecki admits are mostly mundane. 'It’s me going about my life,' says Niedzviecki, 'so the point isn’t necessarily to be thoroughly entertaining.' Of course, Niedzviecki still wants people to tune in, so he is planning a few "special events" that will take place each day, including cooking with Hal, story-hour with Hal, and music-time with Hal (when, in Niedzviecki’s words, 'I play my guitar and sing really loudly and badly')."
Quill & Quire
Pop culture gives way to Peep Culture
Jul 17, 2009
"'Dear Diary . . .'
That phrase is, well, just so dated.
And it's certainly far too private, at a time when people are eager to post their innermost thoughts on blogs and social networking sites like Facebook, for all to read.
Toronto writer and social commentator Hal Niedzviecki calls it 'peep culture,' and says it allows ordinary people to get their entertainment from other ordinary people.
In his book, " The Peep Diaries ," he says it's a tell-all, show-all phenomenon of the digital age, which also has social consequences, such as diminishing the overall concern about privacy."
Globe and Mail
Oprah's club lets in some of the riff-raff
Jul 1, 2009
"The next independently published title on Oprah's list is The Peep Diaries: How We’re Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors (City Lights Books), by Hal Niedzviecki. Mr. Niedzviecki is coincidentally the author of a profile of the aforementioned Quirk Books that appeared in Toronto’s Globe & Mail, 'Publishers feel smart about selling people stupid books.' That was in 2005. They’re feeling even smarter now."
Winnipeg Free Press
"The Peep Diaries, published by San Francisco-based City Lights, is a compilation of revealing narratives, blog posts and researched sociological observations, all interestingly intertwined. It leads to the conclusion that today 'life is lived on constant record because you never know when you're going to want to rewind something, see it again, confront a family member, show it to the police, sell it to the highest bidder, or post it on your blog.'" —Joseph Hnatiuk
"For the accessibly smart, well-researched and humourous The Peep Diaries, Niedzviecki interviewed bloggers, reality show participants and others who opened up their lives for public consumption. He also throws himself into the peep world: Niedzviecki invites 700 Facebook friends that he doesn't know out for free drinks (one person shows up). He concludes that though money and a brief shot at fame seem like motivations, basically we're struggling to find our individual voices in a conformist world. But because Niedzviecki is a forward-minded thinker, he's not making a case against the internet, but rather against corporate systems that regulate our lives: 'Peep culture is our twisted answer to the problem of the dehumanizing of humanity.'" —Sue Carter Flinn
The Chronicle Herald
"The Peep Diaries might very well be the most important work of non-fiction to be released in Canada this year — even this decade. Informative and entertaining ('infotaining'), the author's revealing — and often disturbing — look at our growing obsession with online over-exposure should be required reading for anyone hoping to better understand who we have become and where we are headed." —Stephen Clare
"Niedzviecki has written a well-researched tome, one that reportedly took two years to write, about the seismic shift in pop culture that sees millions of people who are willing to expose themselves in ways both literal and figurative. . . I whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone who is participating in our Peep-obsessed culture. If you blog, Tweet or use any other form of social networking to reach out and connect, this is an insightful and penetrating tome about the truths and consequences of taking part in that process. Indeed, as The Peep Diaries reveals, these are interesting times to be both a voyeur and an exhibitionist. The only remaining question is: where do we go from here?" —Zachary Houle
Rethinking Oprah and Her Legacy
Jun 23, 2009
"My book The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors recently appeared on a list of the top 25 summer reads in O magazine. Because O is Oprah Winfrey's magazine, and because anything connected to Oprah and books is automatically a big deal, I started getting pats on the back and various messages of congratulation. (Plus the offer to write this piece.) At the same time, a few naysayers and critics made it clear through snide asides that they thought being featured in O was the wrong kind of attention. I think they are the ones in the wrong. And not just because, like every author, I'm hoping to sell a lot of books. The Peep Diaries and Oprah's empire are made for each other. After all, Oprah is one of the original peep pioneers."
Hal Niedzviecki, Toronto Globe and Mail
Layoffs and Networking: To Tweet or not to Tweet
Jun 18, 2009
"Hal Niedzviecki, author of the recent book 'The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning To Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors,' says that social network sites offer an illusion that they are touchy-feely places where you can let it all hang out.
'We are using other people's lives as our entertainment,' he says. 'Our problems are going to be entertainment for others. Do I want to provide entertainment for others in this way? Tragedy is great entertainment -- other people's unhappiness is ripe stuff. Maybe you want to increase traffic to your blog, maybe you want more Twitter followers, maybe you want your Facebook friends paying attention to you. If you have something dramatic going on in your life you're going to get attention. On the other hand, is that the kind of attention you want?'"
Caryn Brooks, postcrescent.com
There's an art to writing on Facebook or Twitter -- really
Jun 9, 2009
"'We all have to go to status-update charm school,' jokes Hal Niedzviecki, author of The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors, who joined a slew of online social networks to investigate how they are changing the definition of privacy. 'Just one in every million status updates is worth reading, maybe one in every 5 million if you're looking for poetics.'"
Maria Puente, USA Today
Jun 8, 2009
"The editors of Webster's New World Dictionary chose the verb 'overshare' as their word of the year in 2008. Why are we increasingly compelled to share mundane details of our lives online? We talk with Hal Niedzviecki, author of 'The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors.'"
Michael Krasny, KQED Radio
"What's Peep, you ask? As social critic Hal Niedzviecki explains it in The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors, Peep is the innate human desire to know and be known, to see and be seen, to communicate and be communicated with. We are social animals, goes the Niedzviecki Hypothesis, and this primitive compulsion to reach out and touch (or view) someone harks back to our days as mutually grooming primates. . . . Taking us on a guided tour of over-the-counter spy gear, chat rooms, personal blogs, surveillance technology, and even the bizarre world of online amateur porn, The Peep Diaries provides a lighthearted overview of oversharing. " —Janet Kinosian
"'You need to know. You need to be known.' That is the compulsion fueling what cultural critic Hal Niedzviecki calls 'peep culture, the bastard love child of gossip'—our mass addiction to twittering, tweeting, snooping, spying, blogging, gawking at reality TV and YouTube, spilling our secrets on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Ping…the list goes on. 'Call it surveillance with benefits,' he writes of our consuming need for human connection in The Peep Diaries (City Lights), a virtual descent into the loneliest of worlds." —Cathleen Medwick
"'We all have to go to status-update charm school,' jokes Hal Niedzviecki, author of The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors, who joined a slew of online social networks to investigate how they are changing the definition of privacy. 'Just one in every million status updates is worth reading, maybe one in every 5 million if you're looking for poetics.'" —Maria Puente
"For obsessive Twitter-ers and Julia Allison haters, journalist and cultural critic Hal Niedzviecki's fascinating nonfiction book might just be required reading. In it, he examines the world of what he has coined 'Peep culture,' the oversharing of one's life through blogging, Facebook, YouTube, etc., for a mostly anonymous audience."
Interview with Hal Niedzviecki on CBC's Q Podcast
Jun 2, 2009
Toronto-based author Hal Niedzviecki on his new project, The Peep Diaries. Q is Canada's liveliest arts, culture and entertainment magazine, hosted by Jian Ghomeshi. Interview with Hal begins about halfway through the podcast.
Q Podcast, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
The Globe and Mail
"In The Peep Diaries, author, social critic and indie-culture poster boy Hal Niedzviecki explores, with humour and insight, how we got hooked up to this IV drip of perpetual connectivity, of watching and being watched. It's a great read; it mixes frank interviews with people pushing the boundaries of voyeurism and exhibitionism, alongside a bracing critique of the social context that got us into peep culture and the forces that now exploit our participation in it." —Nora Young
Are we all Big Brother now?
May 24, 2009
"In his book The Peep Diaries, out this week, Mr. Niedzviecki writes that the only people who are consistently opposed to closed-circuit security cameras in public space are a cohort of lefty academics, civil liberties lawyers, government appointees and assorted urban paranoids. Everyone else either does not care, or shares the optimistic hope -- largely against the evidence -- that this will reduce crime and help catch criminals."
Joseph Brean, National Post
The Privacy Recession
May 19, 2009
The Peep Diaries
May 18, 2009
Why We Go Naked Online
May 17, 2009
"One in 10 Americans Facebook, and a staggering one in three Canadians, Toronto writer and pop culture critic Hal Niedzviecki tells us in his new book The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors. Where is the eager exhibitionism of Facebook, Reality TV, YouTube, blogs, Twitter, and amateur porn coming from? Nothing so weird as human need in a dehumanized world, Niedzviecki kind of finds."
May 7, 2009
"When used properly, I think Facebook and Twitter are fantastic tools, and I've connected with many long-lost friends (and avoided a few as well). I'm just as guilty as anyone of occasionally posting useless updates or goofy YouTube clips from 'Match Game '74,' but I try to be careful not to overpost. When I explained my annoyance at excessive tweets and status updates to Hal Niedzviecki, Toronto-based author of the book 'The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors,' he offered an entirely different perspective. Niedzviecki, who's currently filming a documentary about these websites, has a theory that people are not all self-absorbed, they're just looking for human connection."
Christopher Muther, Boston.com
The Ego Book Boom
Apr 17, 2009
"Building momentum for The Peep Diaries is itself a case study for the times: a back-page piece in The New York Times Magazine last October about a Facebook friend-making party that only one person showed up to as promised; a summary of the book's seven main talking points in the February issue of Playboy; and an excerpt on exhibitionist women suffering from 'The Other Porn Addiction' last month in The Walrus. The result is that by the time Peep is formally launched by Niedzviecki at the Gladstone Hotel on May 19, bona fides will have been earned — if only due to thinning print publications starved for cheaply-reported relevance. And, whether or not the term 'peep' enters the parlance to explain what everyone wants to talk about, a country where too few have grasped the concept of how to be internet-famous will at least have a few more attention-seeking writers eager to explain the surrounding theories."
Marc Weisblott, Eye Weekly
"Hal Niedzviecki's new book coins the term 'peep culture' and harnesses a ton of research – as well as his impressive analytical skills – in a way that’s sure to make the term stick. Peep culture refers to the phenomenon that currently finds us all yearning to watch and be watched. It’s spawned everything from reality TV to Facebook to complex spy technologies used for entertainment and other, not so benign purposes. . . . Writing with astonishing clarity – and even beauty – Niedzviecki piles on the ironies. In peep culture, TV shows like 'Cops,' originally intended to curb crime, wind up promoting it. . . . Essential reading."
"Real Simple collected some of the best books out there to help you find your great summer read. . . . If You're Having On-Line Withdrawal. . . .Take a peek at The Peep Diaries an erudite (but not too erudite) look at the culture that Facebook, Twitter, et al. have spawned." —Sara Nelson
Apr 2, 2009
"Whether it's used for checking in on a current partner or trolling an ex's tweets in hopes that his life may be more miserable than yours, Twitter is poised to become the best eavesdropping tool since Facebook – and one experts say can denigrate trust in romantic relationships . . . 'The more information we have, the more information we want to have and the more information we think we're entitled to. This is a big shift in our values, a shift that has already been happening, but is vastly accelerated by all this stuff,' Mr. Niedzviecki says . . . The Toronto-based social commentator is examining how social networking tools such as Twitter are changing values in his eighth book, The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and our Neighbors, which will be published in May."
Zosia Bielski, globeandmail.com
Tweeting with tweople: Twitter spawns new vocabulary
Apr 2, 2009
"Twitter is so twendy. The microblogging service has spawned a vocabulary all its own, with words such as tweople (Twitter-speak for people), twirting (flirting) and tweeps (friends) showing up in tweets (posts, which must be under 140 characters). There's also twitterhea -- the unstoppable urge to tweet."
The Canadian Press, CTV.ca
Mar 27, 2009
"For Hal Niedzviecki, a Toronto-based writer and culture critic, Facebook, then, is one strategy to avoid the loneliness that plagues so many. Plus it harnesses the power of celebrity: how enticing to have lots of people checking out your Facebook page – or following you on Twitter, for that matter. Have we not grown up believing that celebrity is the highest form of attainment in our society?"
Susan Schwartz, The Gazette
"Ubiquitous video technology and the Internet have ushered in a 'peep culture' that makes us all either—or simultaneously—exhibitionists or voyeurs, according to this eye-opening study. In good participant-observer fashion, Niedzviecki (Hello, I'm Special) dives into our mania for observing and revealing pseudo-secret personal information: he starts a blog, applies to reality television shows, does video surveillance around his house and slips a GPS tracking device into his wife’s car. He’s content to merely interview, rather than join, the middle-aged couples who post their amateur porn online. He argues instead that peep culture reprises an ancient impulse to bond through the sharing of intimacies, but worries that our digital version of village gossip and primate grooming is a weak and fraudulent foundation for community (out of his 700-odd Facebook friends and blog readers, only one showed up for his offline party). Niedzviecki’s smart mixture of reportage and reflection avoids alarmism and hype while capturing the strange power of our urge to see and be seen."
—Publishers Weekly, June
The Other Porn Addiction
Mar 16, 2009
"Igor Shoemaker, the German proprietor of the websites Voyeurweb and RedClouds . . . has indeed made it possible for adult women of all ages, shapes, and sizes, from across the world, to post erotic images of themselves for viewing by thousands, if not millions, of people online. The excitement, the women at the party insist, comes from finding out that so many men and women want to look at them, still find them attractive as they approach and pass middle age. Their husbands nod dutifully. With no exceptions, their role is to take the pictures. They talk about photography courses and camera angles. It's a hobby, they insist. It's not all we do, their wives announce, listing other pastimes ranging from volunteering to knitting. You see, we’re not perverts, they seem to be saying. We’re regular people."
Hal Niedzviecki, The Walrus
The Porn Identity
Mar 16, 2009
"In February and March 2009 authors Stacey May Fowles and Hal Niedzviecki corresponded via email about the broader implications of ordinary women revealing themselves and their lives on the internet, and how the moral and cultural consequences of online pornography, community, and diminished privacy create murky waters indeed."
Stacey May Fowles, The Walrus
Globe and Mail Articles on Facebook: A Snapshot of Media's Struggle to 'Get' Peep
Feb 13, 2009
"In keeping with this week's theme on the blog, today I ask: Is traditional media struggling to come to terms with the rise of Peep culture? Not one, not two, but three articles about Facebook currently being displayed on the main page of the Globe and Mail suggest what's going on.
Article one is a news story about the rise of Facebook jealousy. Here's the crux of it: 'Two University of Guelph psychology PhD students conducted a survey of 308 Facebook users and found the more time they spent on the site, the more suspicious they became of their partners.' Reading the article and you'd conclude, particularly if you don't use Facebook, that the site consists of nothing but jealous harpies relentlessly tracking their men. There isn't a single opposing viewpoint. As the article ends: 'bottom line: Facebook 'seems to make it difficult for people to trust, even when they feel confident in their partner,' Ms. Christofides says.' The unstated flipside of this: trust us, the traditional filtered professional media. We won't drive you crazy with jealousy."
Hal Niedzviecki, The Peep Diaries Blog
Ignore Me. If You Can: Thoughts About "25 Random Things About Me"
Feb 11, 2009
"If you've been on Facebook over the last month or so you've probably gotten a message from one of your friends that starts like this:
'Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.'
I've gotten 20 or so of these I think. And I've probably read about 20 or 30. Five million or so notes on people's Facebook profiles were created in the first week of February, double the previous week and more than any other single week in Facebook history. According to Facebook HQ, it was the "Random Things" phenom that caused the explosion."
Hal Niedzviecki, The Peep Diaries Blog
The year in review: 2008 was a teeter-totter
Dec 28, 2008
"Still, the benefits of microcelebrity can be meagre. Toronto cultural critic Hal Niedzviecki invited all 700 of his Facebook friends to join him for a beer. As he recounted in a New York Times Magazine essay, one person showed up. Uno. (1)."
Ryan Bigge, Toronto Star
Marketing on networking sites can be turn-off
Dec 8, 2008
"Consider real friends versus online friends. Hal Niedzviecki of Toronto wrote about his experience throwing a 'Facebook Party' for the New York Times Sunday Magazine. He invited his nearly 700 online friends to meet him at the neighborhood bar. Only one showed up."
Jack G. Hardy, Miami Herald
When you don't want to be Facebook friends
Nov 18, 2008
"Then there's the issue of real friends versus online friends. Take Hal Niedzviecki of Toronto, who wrote about his experience throwing a "Facebook party" for the New York Times Sunday Magazine. He invited his nearly 700 online friends to meet him at the neighborhood bar. One showed up."
Joy Jernigan, MSNBC
Facebook in a crowd
Nov 7, 2008
"One day this past summer, I logged on to Facebook and realized that I was very close to having 700 online 'friends.' Not bad, I thought to myself, absurdly proud of how many cyberpals, connections, acquaintances and even strangers I'd managed to sign up."
Hal Niedzviecki, International Herald Tribune
Fantasy World: Detroit Lions, M.D.
Oct 27, 2008
"The Networking Sites Are Not An Accurate Representation Of How Cool You Are Award
: Hal Niedzviecki, who decided to alleviate his boredom by inviting all 700 of his Facebook friends
out for a casual get-together. One of them showed."
Rick Paulas, ESPN The Magazine
Facebook in a Crowd
Oct 24, 2008
"One day this past summer, I logged on to Facebook and realized that I was very close to having 700 online 'friends.' Not bad, I thought to myself, absurdly proud of how many cyberpals, connections, acquaintances and even strangers I'd managed to sign up.
But the number made me uneasy as well. I had just fallen out with a friend I’d spent a lot of time with. I’d disconnected with a few other ones for the usual reasons — jobs in other cities, family life limiting social time. I was as much to blame as they were. I had a 2-year-old kid of my own at home. Add to that my workaholic irritability, my love of being left alone and my lack of an office environment or mysterious association with the Masons from which to derive an instant network of cronies. I had fewer friends to hang out with than I’d ever had before.
So I decided to have a Facebook party . . . . "
Hal Niedzviecki, New York Times Magazine
Did Hal Niedzviecki make any new friends?
Jul 19, 2008
"In Saturday's National Post, we ran a story about Toronto author and cultural commentator Hal Niedzviecki. Lately, he's been thinking a lot about virtual friends and social networks and what he calls "peep culture." He decided to conduct an experiment: he had hundreds of friends on Facebook he'd never met, and wanted to see if he could translate these online friends offline. So, he invited people on his blog and via Facebook to a night of drinking and merriment at the Rhino in Toronto. Read all about it here. "
Mark Medley, The Ampersand