Friday, May 25, 2007

Friends, Family and Digital Recording

It is a long weekend and I hope you get plenty of outdoor activity. I would also like to recommend three books for you to read if you are interested in the darker or more critical view of the escalating data store being kept on all of us.

First, "A World Without Secrets" by Richard Hunter. A short snippet from Publishers Weekly describes the book as "The warning bell about our rapidly disappearing privacy is sounded again albeit none too stridently in this study of new technologies and their impact. Hunter... wants to sketch out how the omnipresence of computers affects every last centimeter of modern human existence. His first chapter, "Why Won't They Leave Me Alone?" is most to the point, asking, on the subject of Internet commerce, "Is the convenience of being known everywhere worth the risk of being known everywhere?"

Second, "The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?" by David Brin. This was highly recommended to me by a professor at the Institute of Technology, UWT. The following is lifted from's Editorial Review. I didn't take the Publishers weekly snippet because (full disclosure) it was not complementary.

"David Brin takes some of our worst notions about threats to privacy and sets them on their ears. According to Brin, there is no turning back the growth of public observation and inevitable loss of privacy--at least outside of our own homes. ...Brin asserts that cameras used to observe and reduce crime in public areas have been successful and are on the rise. There's even talk of bringing in microphones to augment the cameras. Brin has no doubt that it's only a matter of time before they're installed in numbers to cover every urban area in every developed nation.

While this has the makings for an Orwellian nightmare, Brin argues that we can choose to make the same scenario a setting for even greater freedom."

I left in the extra sentence as he mentions the Orwellian nightmare. This is my awkward segue to the third recommendation. Take out, check out or buy, then (re)read the George Orwell classic "Nineteen Eighty-Four".

Because Big Brother is watching you, and we are Big Brother.

Here are three current celebrity examples. (Thank you for pointing out the first on your blog Lynneta and thank you Adrian for the Romanian example in class).

David Hasselhoff is drunk to a complete lack of coherence. He struggles, shirtless and slurring, to eat a hamburger and talk at the same time. It is posted for the entire world to see on YouTube and his own fourteen year old daughter.

Alec Baldwin is heard berating his daughter and calling her a selfish pig on a recording he left on her phone answering system. Kim his ex-wife denies she or her lawyers in their custody case leaked it to the press.

Romanian President Traian Basescu was approached by the journalist, Andreea Pana, in a Bucharest supermarket. At this time, Romanians were voting on whether to impeach him for alleged constitutional abuses. While the reporter was asking him about the ballot and trying to film him with her cell phone, Basescu angrily snatched the phone from her. He kept it with him and when alone in a car with his wife he called Pana a "stinky Gypsy." What he didn't know was that the phone continued to record his conversations. When the phone was returned, the conversation was released. The President has apologized.

There is a maxim about the web. Don't party with friends who have digital cameras.

Have a good read this weekend and ponder that.

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