menu

Decoding Cryptic Status Updates With Social Steganography

Decoding Cryptic Status Updates With Social Steganography
Advertising

Living publicly in the social sphere often requires knowing how to say one thing, but mean another.

Paloma M. Vazquez
  • 24 august 2010

Sharing at least a fraction of our personal and professional lives in networked society is something that will likely continue to pervade culture, as indicated most recently by Pew Research Center’s American Life Project. This research broadly concluded that Millennials are likely to continue to develop a lifelong habit of sharing online, and redefining what is ‘public’ or ‘private’. Bearing that in mind, a recent post at DMLcentral by Danah Boyd struck us with some interesting observations on Social Steganography, and how applying this – even if unknowingly – allows many to express what they may be feeling online via certain innocuous cues, while only tipping off those close to them as to what they may be feeling, and why.

According to Wikipedia, steganography is

The art and science of writing hidden messages in such a way that no one, apart from the sender and intended recipient, suspects the existence of the message, a form of security through obscurity.

In the realm of social media this may often translate into song lyrics, or quotes, for instance. It may not be wise for you to write ‘my boss/client just made a terrible decision’ on Twitter or Facebook, but you may be able to cite Talking Heads lyrics (i.e., ‘Warning sign, warning sign, I see it but I pay it no mind. Hear my voice, hear by voice, it’s saying something and I hope you’re concentrating…’). The broader audience that follows you may see this is cryptic, or as a vague music reference – but the colleague you just vented to may read it and know exactly what you’re referring to.

While the post cites teens as a prime example of who is using steganography to speak to a varied audience (i.e., choose your words carefully – but still getting a message across – when your Mom and best friends are both on Facebook), we’ve also noticed professionals employing this tactic so as to not alienate any particular members of their potential audience – but still express their thoughts and feelings to those closer to them, whom are more informed as to the context that led to that reaction.

It may not be intentional, but the digital and social media space – which increasingly require striking a calculated balance between what is ‘private’ and what is appropriate for ‘public’ consumption – have intuitively made steganography a useful strategy for communicating with a broader audience of varying degrees of familiarity and intimacy. We are essentially (albeit perhaps unknowingly) utilizing a decades-old technique to speak to these varied audiences ‘in layers’. As we continue to absorb the realities and implications of what and how to live publicly and openly while still maintaining a sense of privacy – techniques like steganography provide an intuitive, creative solution. It may also lead you to reconsider what your friend or co-worker meant when he quoted Steve Miller with ‘go on, take the money and run’.

DMLcentral: “Social Steganography: Learning to Hide in Plain Sight”

Advertising
Trending

How Indiegogo Is Becoming An Adult Product Destination

Retail
Home september 23, 2016

Watch This Fire Pit Dance Along To Your Favorite Song

Music City Fire is a system that is designed to flicker in time to ambient music

Automotive september 23, 2016

Slick GPS Navigator Gives Directions To Moped Riders

This small, round device attaches to a sideview mirror to display maps for safer traveling

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Home september 23, 2016

A Clock That Beautifully Manages Your Information Overload

The wall-mounted timekeeper is made to help people maintain focus and stay up to date with their appointments

Arts & Culture september 23, 2016

Performance Piece Blends Dancers Into Folds Of Light

The work provides commentary on the increasing connection between programmed and analog dimensions

Related Expert

Mike Moloney

Creative Filmmaking

Design & Architecture september 23, 2016

Design Firm Adapts Childhood Homes For Unemployed Young Adults

The studio has unveiled three prototypes of transformed living spaces for people forced to move back in with their families

Health september 23, 2016

These Chocolate Squares Claim To Reverse The Aging Process

A group of researchers from Cambridge University have developed a candy bar that promises to give you a youthful glow

Cities september 23, 2016

Food-Producing Architecture Competition Seeks To Better Feed Cities

A design challenge in Copenhagen highlights the need and beauty of urban farming

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed september 21, 2016

Creative Agency Founder: Using VR As A Race Relationship Tool

Maurice Bernstein, CEO and Founder of Giant Step, explores the value in transforming headsets from high-tech entertainment tools into empathy machines

PSFK Labs september 22, 2016

The Future Of Work: Why Innovation Is Every Employee’s Job

PSFK Labs sits down with management at Johnson & Johnson to learn how the company comes up with their next ‘big idea’

Health september 23, 2016

Wearable Monitors Sun Exposure To Prevent Sunburn

The clip monitors UV rays to make sure you're not receiving too much sunlight

Op-Ed september 23, 2016

Productivity Expert: The Magic Of The Five-Hour Workday

Stephan Aarstol, Founder of Tower Paddle Boards, explains why the modern notion of office hours needs to evolve

Culture september 23, 2016

This Exhibition’s Crowning Jewel Is An 18k Gold-Plated Toilet

The piece, titled 'America,' is meant to raise questions about the country's wealth inequality

Culture september 23, 2016

Match Up With Dates On Tinder Based On Your Music Preferences

A new partnership with Spotify lets people pair up based on shared tastes in artists

Entertainment september 23, 2016

Capture, Cut Up, And Configure Your World In 360 Degrees

To meet a booming 360 and VR video-capturing industry, a multimedia software company bolstered its media editing suite for 360-video creation

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Advertising september 23, 2016

These Trucks Drove Around In Circles For 24 Hours To Keep Time

The giant ticking clock was created by 14 Scania vehicles in a deserted airfield

Advertising september 23, 2016

Buy Movie Tickets Directly From Your Facebook Profile

The new feature is part of a campaign from Fandango to further imbed social media into the ticket vendor's digital presence

Asia september 23, 2016

Co-Working Space Brings The Calming Atmosphere Of Nature Indoors

An architectural firm in China has designed a new type of shared office that prioritizes the natural environment

No search results found.