In the real world, we have conversations in public, in private, and in secret. All three are quite separate. The public is what we say to a crowd; the private is what we chatter amongst ourselves, when free from the demands of the crowd; and the secret is what we keep from everyone but our confidant. Secrecy implies intrigue, implies you have something to hide. Being private doesn't. You can have a private gathering, but it isn't necessarily a secret. All these conversations have different implications, different tones.
Most people have, in the back of their mind, the belief that what they say to their friends, they would be happy to say in public, in the same words. It isn't true, and if you don't believe me, tape-record yourself talking to your friends one day, and then upload it to your website for the world to hear.
This is the trap that makes fly-on-the-wall documentaries and reality TV so entertaining. It's why politicians are so weirdly mannered, and why everyone gets a bit freaked out when the videocamera looms at the wedding. It's what makes a particular kind of gossip - the 'I can't believe he said that!' - so virulent. No matter how constant a person you are, no matter how unwavering your beliefs, something you say in the private register will sound horrific, dismissive, egotistical or trite when blazoned on the front page of the Daily Mirror. This is the context that we are quoted out of.
But in the real world, private conversations stay private. Not because everyone is sworn to secrecy, but because their expression is ephemeral and contained to an audience. There are few secrets in private conversations; but in transmitting the information contained in the conversation, the register is subtly changed. I say to a journalist, 'Look, Dave, err, frankly the guy is a bit, you know. Sheesh. He's just not the sort of person that we'd ever approve of hiring.'. The journalist, filtering, prints, 'Sources are said to disapprove of the appointment.'
Read the whole thing - it is deep stuff, I found to helped me think about this more clearly.
One of the reasons I find 'Trusted Computing' so mistaken is that it confuses the private and the secret, and tries to solve these problems of human trust and community with encryption technology.
Mediation via journalist is less useful than it was, especially given the the frames that they force us into.
The semi-public voice of blogs is a new kind of mediation, and a promising one.