February 26, 2003
Avoiding Big Brother

The champion of 'humanistic intelligence', Steve Mann has defined a new buzzword: Sousveillance. As a piece of language the term is a bit contrived but the idea is interesting. The claim is that what's bad about surveillance is not really the act of surveillance itself, but it is the secrecy and the dehumanizing anonymity of eyes in the sky.
He proposes another way to add further introspection to the commons that keeps societey open but still makes the world smaller and safer - namely surveillance 'from below' (hence the new term 'sur' is 'over', 'sous' is 'under') - meaning technology enhanced 1-1 interactions as the legitimate way to information augment society. His thinking is that it's not really the permanent record the being remembered and held accountable for individual actions, but the correlating and anonymous collection of data instead.
It's an interesting idea to think about even if the idea of the 'sousveillance society' remains rather half baked. It has a strong interplay with ideas of identity in web-space, where ideas of signed encrypted person to person exchanges of identity tokens are beginning to take shape along side more bigbrotherian identity from above, pushed by governments and big corporations (As an aside, Orwell would have loved the newspeak inherent in the name Liberty Alliance. What has emerged from this organization is nothing but big-iron heavy handed control organization identity. No freedom inside.)

Posted by Claus at February 26, 2003 11:37 PM
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