Newmedia on Fri, 11 Oct 2013 14:54:37 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Pascal Zachary: Rules for the Digital Panopticon (IEEE)

> Some people are using the concept of "ban-opticon" to express  this.

Correct. The principles involved have been in force for the past 100+
years -- long before *digital* systems. In the original 19th-century
Benthamite Panopticon, the key idea was that the "inmates" had no idea
if anyone was watching, so they "policed" themselves. DIGITAL systems
finally make these principles fully operative.
We have long been our own "jailers," making the notion of a           
1930s-style Gestapo/Stasi *completely* obsolete. Those "agencies"     
operated under radio-conditions, with a population that was still     
getting used to *controlling* themselves. Both the 1932 "Brave New    
World" and the 1948 "1984" were written with the radio *environment*  
in mind and did *not* fully anticipate what was already being         
Television "programmed" the population to the next level of
"self-policing" in the 1960s/70s. This is why McLuhan separated HOT
media (i.e. radio, where you were told what to do) from COOL media
(i.e. television, where you were expected to "fill in the blanks" and
*control* your own behaviors.)
Furthermore, the collection of data by companies -- particularly
credit and health records, which, under Obamacare, now *most* be
digitized -- are MUCH *worse* than anything the "government" is doing.
While people fantasize that the "thought-police" are going to knock
on their door, in reality (which most people have little contact
with), these "enforcers" don't even exist. It's FAR too expensive (and
politically dangerous) to even imagine building such a group. Instead
we have taken on the cost of "policing" ourselves.
In cybernetics, this is what is called "second order" and is built    
around the notion that people "construct" their own reality, based    
on the work of people like Gregory Bateson and Heinz Von Foerster --  
which many people *falsely* think means maximizing human freedom.     
It does NOTHING of the kind and is actually the opposite (in fact,    
it's an extension of WW II "psychological warfare" and what Bateson   
called "rigging the maze.") -- which is why Norbert Wiener *refused*  
to collaborate with Bateson/Mead/Lewin.                               
This piece is written for the engineers who design "surveillance"
systems, asking them to "police" themselves. While it's understandable
that the IEEE thinks this has to be said (since they are the
professional organization of these engineers), it will make ZERO
difference and fundamentally misunderstands what is actually going
on. What is needed is DEEP analysis of the impact of *digital*
technologies on society -- which, as far as I can tell, is *not*
currently being done anywhere in the world.
The uproar over the Snowden NSA "scandal" is *NOT* really about the
NSA at all. It is about the dawning realization that we all now live
inside a "virtual" system that compels us to *control* ourselves,
since all the details of our lives are being "remembered," in a way
that no *human* civilization has EVER even imagined it could do!
Mark Stahlman
Brooklyn NY

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