The Public Eye
“The Public Eye,” or perhaps more properly called “The Community View” is something I’ve been tossing around my head recently. Right after the violent events described here, images, blog reports, messageboard posts and videos started popping all over the Israeli scenester netsphere, clearly detailing the police actions.
A fellow raver reports that “Anyone without a press card that had a camera to document the police brutality was targeted.”
I found this rather interesting.
Sousveillance, a term coined by University of Toronto Prof. Steve Mann (inventor of EyeTap seeing aid), is inverse surveillance that includes the recording of an activity by a participant in the activity. Mann describes it as “watchful vigilance from underneath”.
So, with the advent of cheap cameraphones and widespread broadband internet access, practically every single member of the community becomes a sousveir.
One of the things that brought inverse surveillance to light was the reactions of security guards to electric seeing aids and similar sousveillance practice. It seemed, early on, that the more cameras that were in an establishment, the more paranoid the guards were of an electric seeing aid, such as the EyeTap eyeglasses. Thus it was, through simply wearing of electric seeing aids, as a passive observer, that something strange was discovered, namely that surveillance and sousveillance get along together about as well as matter and anti-matter. This led researchers to explore why the perpetrators of surveillance are so afraid of sousveillance, and thus defined the notion of inverse surveillance as a new and interesting facet of studies in sousveillance.
So why did the cops single-out and target camerphone holders? To me it seems apparant that it is because nobody likes to be imposed a role-reversal. There are inmates, and there are prison-guards. Anything else seems rather unnerving. Scary, even.
Makes you wonder, can observation from beneath counterbalance state spying?
Therein lies the question (kudos to Alan Moore), Who watches the watchmen?
We are approaching an era where privacy is becoming a scarce commodity, it’s already on the endangered species list, but before it becomes extinct, could widespread sousveillance perhaps be the key to keep The Powers That Be in check? A sort of balance of terror, or mechanism of dialectic checks and balances…
The panopticon is our prison, but a camera can also be our emancipation.
Tagged as cameraphones, liberalism, netsphere, panopticon, public eye, sousveillance + Categorized as Psychology, Social Politics