Posted by toadstar on 3:12 PM

The British War Against Photography:

The Register has an interesting article entitled 'The War on Photographers-You're All al Qaeda Suspects Now.' In which they talk about the recent upsurge in police and security personnel harassing people for taking pictures. All in the name of nation security. Similar instances have happened in the United States, but it seems to be occurring in the UK at an alarming rate.

There is a theory put forth by futurist Jamais Cascio called the Participatory Panopticon. Basically it answers the question, who watches the watchers. We do. Thanks to ever increasing digital media capacity and ubiquitous camera phones it is possible for us to record almost every aspect of our lives (and in the near future we will be able to). Not only that but with almost unlimited storage capacity, we are uploading our lives to the Internet. What happens when our lives are uploaded? Transparency. If I have an argument with my wife (which would never happen ;) ) she would have the ability to say "oh yes you did, look." and I would have no choice but to admit mea culpa.

Already you can see the affect of the participatory panopticon. At the 2004 Republican Convention hundreds were arrested for demonstrating. When in court the police showed videographic evidence of the protesters wrongdoings-the only problem was that the footage was doctored. Defendants were able to find footage shot by others at the demonstration on their camera phones and it showed no wrong doing. Most of the people arrested were let go.

So if the very tool that we are using to watch the watchers is perceived as being a tool of the terrorists how can the participatory panopticon carry on? If the police were able to stop people from taking pictures at the 2004 Convention, how many more people would be arrested, and how many would still be sitting in jail?


Jackson Pollock by Miltos Manetas