June 15, 2007

Seeing Me Go to Work

C17Seeing Me Go to Work - a photoset on Flickr is my little collection of the cameras that watch me as I go to work. Along the 450 meter walk there is one camera approximately every 18 meters.

Many seem to have fairly clear purposes, like watching parking lots and particular establishments. The real deluxe cameras that can pan I would guess are part of traffic/police monitoring. Then there are two black globes hanging from ornate holders that I would guess are run by the city. And three little door cameras that likely are just active when you press the door button - but how can you know?

I'm not sure these cameras represent any real intrusion into my privacy. Along the path I'm also seen by about a hundred people, and students and little old ladies watching from windows could also unobtrusively note my passage. What annoys me with the cameras is the nervousness behind them, the fear that things are going badly and need to be monitored. The cameras will of course never reduce that fear since they both produce lots of data that might be feeding it (look at all those people behaving suspiciously!), they likely help catching perpetrators more than they help prevent antisocial activities, and the bystander get the chilling signal from the presence of the cameras that there is something wrong going on here.

Maybe one approach would be to actually make cameras the default. Imagine that the default configuration of computers, buildings, windows and cars would be to have cameras recording. In most cases these recordings would be forever unwatched, but in the case of an accident or a problem they would be useful. Rather than making cameras something exceptional and ominious they should be made part of everyday functionality, just like we will soon expect everything to be wireless or USB-accessible.

Maybe we should put cameras on the cats too, we seem to be missing a lot of fun.

Posted by Anders3 at June 15, 2007 01:22 PM