Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Res Publica

Edward R. Murrow ::: "(About television) The instrument can teach, it can illuminate. Yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise, it is merely lights and wires in a box."

The same can be said, vocabulary adjusted for technology, about the internet: "The instrument can teach, it can illuminate. Yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise, it is merely chips and circuits in a box."

Not too long ago, theorists fretted that the Internet was a place where anonymity thrived. Now, it seems, it is the place where anonymity dies. That boxful of chips and circuits can do a lot of damage (ask ex-Rep. Weiner) and cannot be stopped.

The Revolution Will Not be Televised. It will be tweeted and blogged and smartphones will take pictures of it and send them to everyone.

The Internet and partners-in-crime computers & smartphones have made the public sphere more public than ever before and have the power to project personal lives into public view. Web sites like Facebook, which require real identities and encourage the sharing of photographs and videos, have helped chip away at anonymity and personal protection online.

“Publicity” — something normally associated with celebrities — “is no longer scarce,” Dave Morgan, the chief executive of Simulmedia, writes: "Virtually everything that you do outside the secure confines of your home is not only public -- as it's always been -- but is now recorded by the hundreds of millions of connected devices with digital cameras, and is being uploaded and made available to everyone else in the world in searchable databases. This is the growing reality of our digital networked world."

That's a network of unblinking eyes connected to recorders that will never forget anything they see.
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