Living in a VillageLet's consider nostalgia for earlier times. Very much earlier times. Maybe we can all go back and live in villages. I'll even let us keep all our modern conveniences, how's that? It's not going to be as good as you might think because, in a village, everybody knows what everybody else is doing. Three recent events sparked my train of thought, here. I backed out of our driveway and noticed a strange car parked on the road. I stopped and took a picture of the car's license plate with my cell phone before driving on. I don't do anything with these photos, they are a precaution against theft in my neighborhood, but I do take them. Then a a friend posted a picture of me on facebook and tagged me in the picture. This, too, isn't unusual behavior in this day and age. Finally another friend, in an online forum discussing Glass, wondered what he might do if a guest came to his house wearing the online picture taking video recording gadget that Google has been recently promoting. I realized, as I snapped the picture of the car's license plate, that we don't need CCTV to insure that almost every event of our lives is captured somewhere. I don't care if you are paranoid about use by a fascist government to control us, concerned about the mob rule that happens when a suspicious picture of someone who attended the Boston Marathon the day it was bombed is posted, concerned that your employer won't like the way you spend your spare time or just like your privacy, your concerns and fears are being realized. I don't believe there is a plot to do this, it's just a consequence of technology. If Google didn't bring out Glass, someone else would: a different name but the same device. It's even the kind of thing an electronics hobbyist could build. It's cute - if you don't think about the consequences. But the consequences are huge. Human beings have lived in this kind of environment before - villages were around long before cell phones, light bulbs, long bows, or probably even fire - but you could escape a village by going on to the next one. We have not only a village with a memory, but one that extends across the globe. Your youthful indiscretions made public with pictures. Your dating history made public with pictures. Embarrassing moments, regretted comments on Facebook, drunk pictures, angry pictures, that time you fell in the sludge in your new suit? You guessed it: pictures. This is not something we can change, not something we can legislate out of existence (remember prohibition?) We might establish rules of etiquette: you don't enter someone elses house wearing Google Glass, for instance. If it works for cell phones in movie theaters, it might work here, although putting that big sign on the front door might be a distraction.
10 Sep 2013
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