DISTRESS CALL FROM WITHIN THE PANOPTICON


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The Panopticon on Wikipedia
Populette
Throne of Blood


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This weeks's Throne of Blood post is a thoughtful lament on the state of contemporary technology penned by Throne of Blood's Art Director, Andrew Potter, AKA one half of TOB producer team, Populette.

We are omnipresent and all-knowing.

I haven't seen you in a year, but I know where you are at any moment, what you eat, what music you listen to, where you went on vacation, and who you are sleeping with. We know so much about people before we even meet them and people know that we know and that we are watching. Everyone is their own celebrity, jack of all trades; master of none. "I'm in marketing, but I'm also a DJ, and I run my own jewelry line and write for a food blog."

We are all guilty of this in one way or another. I do interactive design during the day and produce techno at night. I rely heavily on hardware, software and the internet. I have a blog (or three), a Facebook page for myself, and one for my music. I'm writing this blog post right now while juggling my work for the day. Technology allows me to do this simultaneously and somewhat effectively. It allows us to be at work and at the park with our kid at the same time. Our phones are designed with a grid of applications—the computing power in one alone enough to fill a room with hardware 50 years ago. These advancements are empowering.

Why am I so worried then? Recently I thought about being a child in the late 80s/early 90s, and how if I wanted to hang out with a friend, we both had to be home at a specific time in order to make plans over the phone (which plugged into the wall). Once we established a place to meet, we would most likely spend an entire day riding bikes or skateboarding, exploring the woods, or even just hanging out in a parking lot. If we ran into other friends, fine. If not, no big deal. When we ate lunch, we didn't photograph our meal and share the image with everyone we knew before taking a bite. If our parents wanted to know where we were, they couldn't, and if they wanted to speak to us, they would have to wait until we got home. I could count on my hands how many friends I had. I certainly didn't have over 1,000 as my Facebook page claims.

Times have obviously changed, and for better or worse, our children will not have the childhood we had. But I wonder if they be able to pause, study, reflect, or focus their energy into one special thing for an hour or more? Will they feel the need to know everything, do as many things as possible and see everyone at any given time? If they do, will people be able to see them back?

Are the little black slabs we carry around in our palms the ticket out of here? Are they windows into the rest of the world? The next time someone crashes into me on the street because their face is glued to their iPhone I will have to ask them,"What do you see in there and why it is better than the world you have stepped out of?"

Footnote:
The technology of seeing all things simultaneously can be linked back to The Panopticon, which was not invented by Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. It was a prison design created by English philosopher and social theorist, Jeremy Bentham in the late eighteenth century. In the panopticon, a central tower sat like a spoke in the center of a wheel of inward facing prison cells. It allowed the jailors to observe all the inmates of an institution without the inmates knowing they were being watched.

More here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopticon