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Wednesday, April 26 2017

How Will Our Civic Voyeurism Play Out?


There was a time when few U.S. citizens had the ability to photograph, videorecord, and make calls from anywhere they felt like it.  That's no longer the case.

And I wonder what impact that will have on the citizenry, in both the short-term and the long-term.

I mean, I expect that there will be more public documentation of things like:

  • the beating of Rodney King
  • the shooting of Oscar Grant
  • sexual indiscretions of various fringe- and not-so-fringe-celebrities

But yesterday, I got to thinking...

A government issue vehicle (GSA, if you must know) cut across two solid traffic lines to cut me off, getting off the freeway.  By any measure, this was reckless.  And I thought..."Boy, that seems foolish to do in a car that could easily be tracked to you, and in which your activities could easily be reported.

Of course, I'll bet almost *nobody* ever calls the phone numbers on trucks that say "how's my driving?"  It's not yet appified.  It's inconvenient.

But at some point, there's going to be a black-box-type recorder, standard feature, in new cars.  It'll record video or stills with some storage capacity.   And someone, of course, will build the application that allows your mobile phone to pull the latest images off, and send them to a clearing house/distribution site (maybe including looking things up in license plate records?).

When that tool comes out (and, really, it will, right?  it's not very expensive to build, at all...), what will the result be?

  1. Will people report each other more, because it's convenient?
  2. Will people feel that it's like (Soviet-style, fascist-style, 1984-style) reporting on their neighbors, and determine that the social good is preserved by *not* reporting every little thing?
  3. Will people, believing they're under greater scrutiny, change their driving habits?  Or do they believe they're not driving like lunatics now (even when I think they are)?


And yeah, I do wonder what the response would have been if I'd called the GSA to report the specific license plate as being recklessly managed.  I bet nothing.

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