Friday, November 30, 2007

worth 354 words

I have noticed lately that there are cameras in the cabs of New York. There seem to be cameras just about everywhere else around me too - my office, the elevator, on the street, in the shops, hotel lobbies, entrances, behind fast food counters, hallways, ATM machines, Walmart and Walmart like places. In some cities they post signs to let you know that there are cameras on the streets around you. In others they don't.

Chicago and London come to mind as two cities that each have a lot of cameras.

I used to be bummed that I take more pictures than are taken of me. But I now realize that in fact there are a whole lot of pictures being taken of me all the time and of you too.

It all seems kind of creepy, really. The State or your boss watching you at all times. Someone official, yet potentially questionable, recording you every move and storing it somewhere. It's not that I have anything to hide. It's just that I like to be the one who examines my life.

But as with all things there is a flipside.

I was in a cab in Seattle with a camera. The cabbie pointed out an particular intersection in the downtown with four cameras. He said that lots of people got speeding tickets mailed to them based on footage from those cameras. He also told me a story of a drunk guy who got in a cab and badly beat up his Sikh driver. The footage from the camera in the cab was used as evidence against the attacker.

And today I was watching this TED talk by Peter Gabriel about his involvement in human rights advocacy and a human right organization he helped found called WITNESS which provides cameras to people to document human rights abuses internationally.

What might in one case seem bad can be used in another to do good. The camera is powerful but it is in itself neutral.

What matters is your motivation and intention in picking it up and how you use the images you capture.

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