"..A dominant impulse on encountering beauty is to wish to hold on to it, to possess it and give weight in one's life...There is an urge to say, 'I was here, I saw this, and it mattered to me." - Alain de Botton - Stendhal Syndrome."
Taking everything you know about the world of computers, the history of screen experience and the trajectory of emerging technologies—say with Google Glass, for example—combined with this culture’s love affair with instant gratification, recording, surveillance, narcissism, and control; what could one be left looking at?
The Entire History of You explores some of these ideas in a world where most people have an implant behind their ear called a ‘grain’ which records everything they do, see and hear. Memories can be played back either in front of the person’s eyes or on a screen—a process known as a ‘re-do.’
Nothing is off limits. Everything is recorded, archived, and scrutinised.
Scrutiny comes to social events too. ‘Re-dos’ are done with friends and family, analogous to the current culture of social media ‘sharing’ and the solipsistic sense of self lived vicariously through screens.
In this world—and of our own—what are the myriad personal, interpersonal and social implications? What do the profound repercussions for relationships and even individual existential experience look like?
The Entire History of You is part of a series of films called Black Mirror which explore different aspects of “the way we live now—and the way we might be living in 10 minutes’ time if we're clumsy.”
More to come...
Yesterday, Dr Albrecht appeared on George Noury's Coast to Coast program (see technology update here) and discussed the 'I want my iPad' phenomenon in toddlers. Here is another video she pointed to:
And another... She maintained that she would generally NOT wish for listeners to view these kinds of clips online but in this instance, it was the only way to raise awareness to an epidemic occurring in our society.
This phenomenon is a known phenomenon. See more. So what are we doing about it? Gathering the evidence and putting our kids online so that our Youtube hits increase ten-thousand fold?
I feel so sick in linking these videos of these kids up online in the uberveillance.com environment. But I am calling people out there to wake up to the what is occurring in most of our households.
What is the answer?
Better friends and extended support groups?
Zero tolerance on screen time for toddlers?
Schools saying 'no' to technology in the classroom?
Are we adding fuel to the fire?
What is blatantly obvious to me is that we need more research into SOLUTIONS. We can't have kids crying like this and profusely suffering anguish, and we cannot have parents surviving this kind of daily misery... and most of all we need to feedback these problems to developers... we cannot point the finger at Apple or Google alone... we need to point the finger at ourselves... society... yes 'we' perpetuate the problem. We can plead ignorance but we all know someone going through this- a child, a grandchild, a niece or nephew, a friend or a neighbour... in fact, we might be even going through it ourselves!
Where have we gone wrong?
Beyond that obvious point?
Why are the parents of these poor children putting their kids up online for everyone to comment on? Are they deep down seeking help? Do they want their prayers answered? Do they want to make their kids well?
We cannot claim ALL of these children appearing in thousands of uploads (just search online) are due to autism or some other mental illness or developmental problems! And if we claim that, are computers somehow contributing to these developmental issues?
The other thing that becomes apparent to me is the use of the mobile phone video camera as a weapon. Have we become so heartless, that we begin now to film these traumatic events and post them online for others to comment on. You were right on the mark Dr Albrecht. This is evil. Instead of going over and gently comforting our kids to return to their senses, we take out the camera to record the reality-tv... and so our children are now a part of a global theatre!
In previous posts, I have discussed the importance of NOT capturing these moments so we can allow our children to grow and develop, and not be held accountable for things they did as children. MG Michael and I have discussed the limits of watching. With Christine Perakslis we have also written an extensive book chapter on veillance (in press)!
Can you imagine being one of the kids in this video? How would that make you feel 5 years on, 10 years on, 20 years on, or when you first discovered it was online for all to see on Youtube? Would you be typecast for life?
Everyone, we have to wake up! I am not being alarmist... if your heart doesn't feel sad over these videos then I personally don't know what to say...
And then we are contemplating taking Glass into the classroom? Right-o! Don't you think these tantrums don't happen at school? Will our children become "objects" not just "subjects" in the classroom? Let us tread VERY carefully. We can't use our kids as experiments. We need to think ethics.
And it is not just children that react this way... no... no... adults too, have this reaction but just convey it in a different way. See my article on high-tech lust!
We need to take the negative social implications of computers more seriously. Yes, some guys out there claim that computers can help kids... all my fellow collaborators and I are claiming is that the opposite is also true. Let's not be so narrowsighted. This is our future we are talking about!
Republished from Veillance.me (dated 19th February 2013 and written by Katina Michael).
Original source location: http://veillance.me/blog/2013/2/19/the-muffin-man
For some time now Alexander Hayes and I have been researching body worn video recording devices within the context of education & training. In 2009 when we started brainstorming about possible PhD projects we thought about engaging with all levels of education across sectors- from the way body worn video recorders would be used with young children at child care centres, all the way up to the vocational training sector, universities and beyond.
I want to write here about the Muffin Man. Who is he? What does he look like? How can the Muffin Man be connected to body worn video recorders like digital glass?
Watch this video first to get a better understanding of where I'm headed in this post. The video is simply titled: "Nathan Playing" and has in excess of 11,000 hits [now 18,469]. Not bad for a 5 minute home-style video which records children at play making muffins...
My first exposure to day care centres (also known as preschools, although there is some distinction) came in the beginning of 2006. I rang several listed centres close to my place of residence and was fortunate enough to gain access to the most reputable for my firstborn. Any parent will tell you that a great day care/preschool makes life for a working mother/father so much easier. Absolutely wonderful when the environment you are part of is one of continual learning for both carers and children alike (not to mention parents). Juggling work life and family life is difficult at the best of times, and every parent wishes for the best start for their child to be in a loving environment.
As fate would have it the carers of my children with so many decades of experience between them not to mention a plethora of accredited qualifications, began to deliver lectures at the University of Wollongong's Early Childhood program in 2009, participated in honours research projects, and sourced great talent when required.
But I do remember on joining the Centre how much the owners looked forward to having a techy mum on hand and how technology agnostic they were... every morning for months I would drop off my child and spend some 10-15 minutes talking about "computers", tutoring lightly, and providing clarity to visions of the owners of how they would incorporate technology for benefit.
I remember the carers going on a course one day and coming back with a book and a CD filled with templates for Microsoft Word/ Powerpoint all inspired about how computers would be used, such were the courses on offer back then. Consultants made mega $ just by showing day care owners how to open and close a Microsoft Word file! I chose otherwise as there was a direct benefit to my children and those of my neighbours.
So the challenge- "integrate computers"... No, the carers were not talking about some funky electronic $7,000 whiteboard although they did later buy a sizeable screen and several laptops... and no they were not talking about showing the kids videos with computers, but about capturing the special moments of the day and allowing the mums and dads some time to reflect on their child's development upon pick up in the afternoon.
I offered my services to the carers of the "little angels" and on many occasions I found myself training the carers of my child... only it did not feel like training, it felt more like an adventure. We started from the very basics- "this is a workspace", "this is how to INSERT>PICTURE", "this is how you add TEXT", and "this is how you save". I was not interested in making it difficult but making it practical and easy and directly satisfying what the carers imagined they could do with computers. When I once demystified the process, they realised how simple it actually was and then ideas began to flow very quickly. They were "off and running" as they say.
The owners/carers had ideas about:
- how to capture the spirit and activities of the day through visual evidence;
- how to log the child's weekly milestones as identified in the national curriculum.
We started thinking pictures as in photos of the kids at play, we started thinking audio, we started thinking visual recordings... that Christmas I bought the day care a digital recorder- it seemed only natural that we progressed that way, this is despite my active role in Australia's Privacy Foundation and my research into surveillance devices... within weeks, the owners had an even better idea, they bought a digital camera that took good movies and used it every day while the kids played to capture milestones and record them in both a powerpoint presentation that would be shared to all the mums and dads of an afternoon; and pictures of kids they would print and stick into the child's life book with personalised comments. Every Christmas, the carers would wrap the life books up and give them to the kids as their end of year present. They dubbed the life book, "the treasure book" and I've held onto those treasures and often reflect at how fast early childhood goes... way way too fast.
Much later I learnt of Steve Mann's glogging of his own children which are hard to miss on glogger.mobi. But we'll come back to that one a little later...
Today most parents take lots and lots of photos- I've spoken to some mums who purportedly have tens of thousands of photos of their firstborn, less of their second child, and scant of their third, and very few of their fourth. Regardless, most people don't print and document and reflect on photos despite that we take so many of them! I can categorically say, as my children get older, that those treasure books are priceless.
The general practice was great- greet your child for pick-up, spend some time looking through the treasure book and then watch the day's video clips with your child. Five minutes of a summary was a great way to reflect and share on the day that was. It's a special way of connecting with your child after being apart for 8-10 hours.
That's pretty much the story I wanted to share... but there is another side to all this that might cause some readers of this post to be alarmed. Controls are super important when dealing with kids. While there are ethical guides what is absent from the literature are practical regulations, that provide some bounds when it comes to recording young children and disseminating that 'data'.
I write this piece because there is still much to learn about the following:
- will parents begin to demand access to this footage?
- will owners be tempted to stream this data securely over the web?
- should children be filmed at all?
- what safeguards might be introduced?
- how should data gathered be stored? should it be destroyed daily?
- should audio settings be muted on cameras recording?
- might records be demanded by authorities for liability, eyewitness reporting?
All of these questions must be asked... and I have to say that the carers and I discussed these issues at length at the outset. The owners were meticulous in their practice:-
- no sharing of video files directly with parents via external media (USB or otherwise) no matter what had been captured of exceptional personal value
- only positive exchanges were to be retained and shared showing children at play or learning or enhancing skills
- all children were to feature on the videos without one child dominating over another.
Almost all owners of day cares/preschools want the best for their Centres, and most steer clear of even a web site or online repositories of data. Most Centres also cannot afford expensive storage services, although almost all Centres now have broadband access given government requirements for fees and rebate calculations based on income testing.
Yet here are some aspects that people for now have put into the "too hard basket" but answers are required and pressing:
- Do children act differently when they know they are being recorded?
- Is it right to film children at all? Is audio totally off limits? What are the jurisdictional comparisons on this point?
- Will drones replace the camera held by the human and what are the implications of this? Positive/negative?
- What if children were handed the pair of glasses to wear and film the space around them? Is the child's point of view different to that of the adult point of view?
- How should visual evidence of minors be stored, if at all?
- What kinds of policies should be instituted when Centres use recording devices in their workplace?
- Are their learning outcomes for children when visual recordings are taken OR are the outcomes only enjoyed by parents in sharing in the joint development of their child?
- Should children have access to their "lifelogs" beyond their treasure books when they grow up? Will it help in resolving certain behaviours, and emphasising others in a positive way?
Those are just some of my reflections... so much work is being done in the surveillance field and children. See for example the exceptional research work of Tonya Rooney of Australia. A PhD worth reading titled: "Growing up in Surveillance Society: The Changing Spaces of Childhood Experience".
I do hope that people will take this post and consider it deeply- especially those in the Early Childhood/Tech space. So much to ponder! Welcome aboard.
Thanks to Nick Rheinberger for bringing Alexander Hayes and myself back onto the Morning Program on ABC Illawarra 97.3 today to share our reflections on IEEE ISTAS13 veillance.me. Here's a summary of what we spoke about. Interestingly, we covered a broad range of topics, one of which was how sportspeople use wearable monitors these days. I recollected a blogpost I had written on this site regarding cricketers. For those interested see BodyMedia | FIT technology.
I entered the studio and there was Mr Rheinberger all happy to greet me with his wearable Sound Equalizer Rave T-Shirt. I was very much impressed with the preparation he had gone to light up the segment! He commented on how affordable these wearable items are getting. I agreed. I can purchase in Australia a high definition covert surveillance device for no more than $50, and the t-shirt below for $22!
What does that mean when we consider the future of wearables and their embeddedness in most clothing? What will happen when the t-shirt we wear has a large portable screen in the front of it that records everything in view and sends it back into the Cloud for keeping?
Of course, wearables like this can be a lot of fun- just ask Eric Boyd who joined us at ISTAS13 during our panel session and whose necklace kept flashing every time he spoke!
But seriously are people thinking implications at all? Yeah, I agree, there is a fun factor to most of these new innovations, but after the novelty wears off we are left with the consequences, and they might be more severe than what we might imagine!
An insightful presentation by Katherine Albrecht on "Total Tracking", 5 years before the NSA-PRISM scandal surfaced. Presentation at the coalition of Freedom Keepers gathered at Jekyll Island Club Hotel in GA on May 21 and 22, 2009 to plan the Continental Congress 2009.