Big Brother TV Or Distributed Citizen Action?

The governor of Texas has announced plans to stream the video feed from hundreds of border surveillance cameras over the Internet. "A stronger border is what Americans want and it's what our security demands and that is what Texas is going to deliver," Governor Rick Perry said.

The intent is to provide an 800 number to viewers. If you happen to spot anyone crossing the border, call the number and let the border patrol handle it.

The cameras will cost $5m (2.7m) to install and will be trained on sections of the 1,000-mile (1,600km) border known to be favored by illegal immigrants.

This is an issue that cuts across several different areas of concern for American citizens. On the one hand, police and citizens have always worked together in neighborhood watch programs; extra eyes make it easier for overburdened police officers. On the other hand, there is something a bit creepy about a program that is based on the idea that strangers all over the globe will be recruited to perform surveillance duties.

There are several interesting correlations between this program and science fiction. In his 1999 novel All Tomorrow's Parties, writer William Gibson writes about the "Lucky Dragon Global Interactive Video Column" outside an international chain of convenience stores. It would show you randomly selected live feeds from the video surveillance cameras in other stores all over the world.

You had to pass it entering and leaving the store, so you'd see whichever dozen Lucky Dragons franchise [it] happened to be linked with at that particular moment: Paris or Houston or Brazzaville, wherever.
(Read more about Interactive Video Column)

This is presented more in the context of cheap entertainment than Big Brother. On the other hand, consider the following scene from Ray Bradbury's 1954 novel Fahrenheit 451, in which the totalitarian, book-burning government is looking for the novel's hero, who is on the run for reading books:

"Police suggest entire population in the Elm Terrace area do as follows: Everyone in every house in every street open a front or rear door or look from the windows. The fugitive cannot escape if everyone in the next minute looks from his house. Ready!"

Of course! Why hadn't they done it before! Why, in all the years, hadn't this game been tried! Everyone up, everyone out...

He imagined thousands on thousands of faces peering into yards, into alleys, and into the sky, faces hid by curtains, pale, night-frightened faces, like gray animals peering from electronic caves, faces with gray colorless eyes, gray tongues, and gray thoughts looking out through the numb flesh of the face...
(Read more about Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451)

Interestingly, this has also been tried in a slightly different way in London. Shoreditch TV is an experiment in beaming live closed-circuit video signals from street surveillance cameras into people's homes. Viewers can watch the dog walkers, would-be graffiti artists and keep an eye on the local pub. This summer 22,000 Londoners will be tuning in. The channel is described as "fighting crime from the sofa."

The British are pretty much into surveillance cameras - read Spy Cameras Watch Spy Cameras In UK. Read more about Shoreditch TV and Texas Border Patrol.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/2/2006)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Surveillance ")

Birds Aren't Real - Wake Up, California! (With Bird Watching Guide)
'When he had first built them, they had been crude indeed, flying mechanisms with little more than a reflex-response unit.' - Philip E. High, 1968.

LA Subway Scanner, As Seen In 'Total Recall'
'I'm afraid to tell you this Mr. Quaid, but you have suffered a schizoed embolism...'

Amazon's Rekognition System Sees Criminals In Congress
'... the imprint of her image on the telephoto cell.' - Schachner and Zagat, 1931.

IJOP Integrated Joint Operations Platform China's Minority Report?
'All day long the idiots babbled, imprisoned in their special high-backed chairs...'

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

SWEEPER Robot Peter Piper Picking Peppers
'... little machines, that went from plant to plant, apparently on caterpillar tracks, cutting off the ripe fruit.'

Oil from Algae - Can It Be Done?
'We dump everything that's waste into the tanks, pump the oil off the top.'

Moving Whole Planets, Revisited
There was a lot of work done on this idea over the years.

Disney Keeps Backups Of Star Wars Franchise Actors
'She is a personality-construct, a congeries of software agents...'

Farming In Space Starts With Mycorrhiza
'The inner leaves were beginning to curl faster than the outer leaves.'

Jaguar I-Pace Audible Vehicle Alert System For EVs
'Of course not a vehicle moved by means of internal explosions of a derivative of rock oil...'

Autonomous 'Fiberbots' Weave Large Structures
'It extrudes material like a spider.'

Birds Aren't Real - Wake Up, California! (With Bird Watching Guide)
'When he had first built them, they had been crude indeed, flying mechanisms with little more than a reflex-response unit.'

Self-Healing Material Pulls Carbon Out Of The Air
'... could seal the punctures.'

IRL Glasses Block Screens, Limit Vision To Real Life
'If you couldn't see the ads, how would you know what was fashionable?'

Testing The Single-Person Spacecraft
'...the lower part of the suit was simply a rigid cylinder.'

Shapeshifting Materials Transform By Light
'Its lines wavered, flowed, and then painfully reformed.'

Fully Automated Farm Iron Ox Hydroponics
'Had these machines in some incredible fashion been provided with brains?'

BrainNet Social Network Of Brains
'I used my implant to tell MILLIE what we wanted and she took care of it'

Phil Nuyttnn's City Under The Sea
'Under the lower roof there was no water, but a clear and luminous atmosphere...'

IONITY Opens First 10 Fast-Charging Stations
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.