When is radical transparency completely opaque? When it's advertised on the cover of Wired -- that tease of a magazine that promises nakedness but covers up all the interesting bits.
My April Wired arrived today, its cover glowing with a mini-skirted Jenna Fisher (dressed up as The Office receptionist Pam Beesly) waving a placard with the words "GET NAKED and..." No, Wired hasn't become Maxim. Jenna/Pam is a come-on for some soft corporate erotica entitled WHY EXPOSING YOURSELF IS THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS. It's a Web 2.0 manifesto for "enhancing transparency" in business. Strip off and bare all through corporate blogging, Wired is telling us. This is Web 2.0 business wisdom (un)dressed up as post Freudian self-revelation.
Chris Anderson confesses this fetish with radical transparency to be his "grand project." But it's actually his great seduction. There's a see-through plastic page on Wired's cover which, when peeled away, reveals Jenna/Pam completely naked. The problem is that we don't really get to gaze at Jenna/Pam is her purity, in her most radically transparent state. The young woman might not be wearing any clothes -- but she's holding another placard covering her private parts, this one more verbose than the first:
.... Rule the World. Smart companies are sharing secrets with rivals, blogging about products in their pipeline, even admitting to their failures. The name of this new game is RADICAL TRANSPARENCY, and it's sweeping boardrooms across the nation. Even those Office drones at Dunder Mifflin get it. So strip down and learn how to have it all by baring it all.
The truth, of course, is what's covered up. Wired won't show Jenna/Pam naked because the opaque is actually more radical than the transparent. And nor do any of us reveal ourselves when we claim to be telling the truth, in corporate blogs or in any other online confessionals. The more we blog, the more we claim to be to revealing ourselves, the more we are clothing ourselves behind the careful calibration of our own language. Anderson, Wired, Web 2.0... it's all the theater of the cover-up, an act of dressing up rather than striptease, the erotica of words rather than the erotica of the flesh.