Ultimately, do we talk or not talk to journalists?

Many of us have been burnt by them, but it is the only way to get out of the ivory tower and to reach the broader public with our research. Some interviews are successful, where the interviewee engages in some serious dialogue with the interviewer, but even these may be considered mere profiles after an article goes to print having gone through the editing process multiple times.

We all know how modern journalism can work with the “grab” or the “hook line”. But the grab (similarly to the antecedents of surveillance) is at least as old as the “Let there be light”! But it is still worth the risk however it might make us look, if at least the grab causes some useful and widespread discussion.

I have often donated hours of my time to answering queries a journalist might have about a topic I have expertise in when asked. I cannot determine what parts of my contribution are cited or how they are cited. Thank goodness there have been more positive than negative experiences.

What matters beyond any aggrandizing of the self in the press, is that the journalist presents a balanced perspective in an article with the grabs from the different interviewees. We will not always be quoted in context nor will reference always be made to our “resume” or to the larger corpus of our work.

"According to University of Wollongong associate professor Katina Michael, it will allow wearers to ''share visual surveillance in real-time with people in underground networks of all sorts - for the distribution of child pornography, for grooming, cyberstalking, voyeurism and even for corporate fraud''.

As for my recent quote (above) in the Sydney Morning Herald in the article written by Asher Moses published on 23 March, I stand by it completely and absolutely with the only qualification that digital glass is certainly far more than those negatives of my quote and it will (in its positive applications) provide for extraordinary times in all spheres of our lives. To Asher Moses on 18 March I began with the following statement in response to an email inquiry:

"There are a number of societal implications of wearable computing technologies: some positive, some negative. When used for emergency response or ehealth applications, the advantages of Digital Glass are significant, remote step-by-step instructions through a digital eyeglass leaving both hands free and remote diagnosis of patients increasing doctor to patient ratios. 
But one has to ponder on whether the projected harms will outweigh these selective benefits. For example, one can quickly imagine this new technology being misused by cybercriminals- namely for crimes against the person. In effect, we are providing a potential capability to share visual surveillance in real-time with people in underground networks of all sorts- for the distribution of child pornography, for grooming, cyberstalking, voyeurism and even for corporate fraud where "the computer" is the ultimate target."

And yet, if anybody in our ICT community genuinely holds that my “grab” will not be part of the Glass legacy, they are seriously mistaken. Those corporations and vendors marketing and “selling the glass” without the caveat emptor, will have you believe academics such as myself are dangerous, backwards, and a threat to our bright future. Let me say to them, there will come a time when Dylan Thomas’ famous “rage, rage against the dying of the light” will come back to haunt you with the equally evocative and soul stirring, “rage, rage against the double-dealing of the glass.” I for one, along with those whose research findings point them to similarly cautious responses, will not “go gentle into that good night.”

We are headed for wonderful times with digital glass and we are headed for horrible times with digital glass. There is no utopia and there is no dystopia. I've always believed in the "via media" (centrality/middle ground). Importantly, philosophers who have contemplated on the question of technology and its impact on society, have argued that technology must be vigorously critiqued for the worst of all possible outcomes would be the dehumanization of the individual and the loss of dignity. One of the fundamentals of this literature is the profound comprehension that technology has not only to do with building but that it is also a social process.

But one thing I do know from almost two decades of active involvement in ICT- whether it be industry or academia and through my numerous research collaborations (especially with MG Michael)- is that where a technology can be misused, it will be. Then again, history itself is proof enough.