Tuesday, March 12, 2013

1984 in 2013

I wrote a post a short time ago about my employer giving me a webcam.  I teach both live classes and online classes.  The webcam is intended to make teaching the online classes better so I can see students and they can see me.

This is all good and well.  However, the thought of cameras at work and in my home (since much of my online teaching is done out of my home on weekends or at night) is unsettling.  I am reminded of that novel most of us read years ago called 1984 by George Orwell.

I confess I don't remember many of the details but the overall theme is unforgettable.  In particular, I recall that in the futuristic society Orwell was writing about (and he wrote the book in 1949) cameras were in your home and at your work.

The cameras were called telescreens and were two way cameras.   People could see you and you could see them.  Any time the government wanted to check on you, it could just look into your home via the cameras that were required to be in your home. 

Today we have red light cameras that report us if we are speeding or run a red light.

Any time you are in a store you are on camera.  People in security, often above the ceiling in special rooms, are watching and recording your every move.

If you look up at the ceiling of any store you will see black bubbles that are holding a camera.

Now you can buy a home security system that includes cameras you can access through your smart phone.

You get the idea.  We are becoming a society that not only seems to need instant communication via Facebook and other social media, but now we turning that up a few more levels.  Some of this is good.  No question about that. 

The real issue is finding a balance where our privacy is protected while our security or other interests are advanced.

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