#BCM240 – About the private and public space


Image URL: http://www.spacehijackers.org/images/projects/privatepublic/cityhall/title.jpg

How would you define a public or private space? Let’s look in general, public space refer to area that doesn’t belong to anyone such as park, roads and others whereas private space refer to certain area that belongs to any individual for instance a house, office and so on. Humphreys (2005) defined public spaces as those areas occupied by persons who primarily do not know each other while private space can refer to a private dwelling such as one’s home. My private space will definitely be my room, I can do whatever I like without bothering what others think about me. I personally feel very comfortable with my private space, my comfort zone.


Take social media as example, even in a public space, we prefer to use it privately instead of showing to others what we are doing with it. For instance, we will be more comfortable to chat with our friend through our phone without letting people know the contents rather than using a desktop which people can see it easily. Take Facebook as another example, we might update status, upload photo or check in location publicly however when comes to private chat, we still prefer to use the message instead of posting publicly on someone wall to let everyone notice it.

Besides, i think everyone act differently in public space and private space as well? In my thoughts, i always think that people have different side of themselves in front of different people. Goffman has explored how individuals behave in public spaces and has codified the norms which govern such social interaction (as cited in Humphreys 2005). We have to act like a good girl or good boy in front of our parent, we have to act like a hardworking student in front of our lecturer whereas we can play crazily in front of our friends or people close to us. I would not say this is acting but a way which how the society shapes us. Moreover, in public space we will be more cautious on our behavior, we will make sure we looks good all the time and show people the best side of us. Take some girl for example, in public space where they will meet people they know and they don’t know, they used to make up and show people their prettiest face whereas in private space like their home, they have no problem without putting any make up.


There is no clear distinction between public and private space. A public space could be say as a private space where private space could define as public space as well. For instance like a bank. A bank would definitely be a public space but when comes to ATM machine it would become a private space where people cannot see what others are doing such as entering their password. Public access facilities far from being pure spaces are often seen by their users as creating opportunities for ‘private-in-public’.


Viseu, A, Clement, A, Aspinall, J & Kennedy, T 2006, ‘The interplay of public and private spaces in internet access’, Information, Communication & Society, vol.9, no.5, pp633-656, accessed 23/8/2013, http://www.tandfonline.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/doi/pdf/10.1080/13691180600965633

Humphreys, L 2005, ‘Social topography in a wireless era: the negotiation of the public and private space’, Journal Of Technical Writing & Communication, vol.35, no.4, pp367-384, accessed 23/8/2013, http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=c0711478-283d-4dd6-94d3-93c4bd640af5%40sessionmgr12&vid=2&hid=23


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