If Broken Pencil founder and new-media thinker Hal Niedzviecki needed proof for his theories on "peep culture," he should thank Michael Jackson. The circumstances surrounding Jackson's death---the almost instantaneous delivery of news via celebrity gossip pariah TMZ and the subsequent traffic toll it took on social networking websites---is a perfect example of our obsession with being watched and with watching. The relentless Jackson tributes are definitely more peep then pop: Talk about a man in the mirror.
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."