April 11th, 2009

Sousveillance

Here's a nice new word: sousveillance. Surveillance is when the authorities point their cameras at us and sousveillance is when we point our cameras back at them.  As the surveillance state bulks up, so does the sousveillance resistance- and its largely due to that nifty little device- the camera phone. Thanks to sousveillance the Metropolitan police are not going to get away with their account of the death of Ian Tomlinson in the G20 demonstration. According to the the story they first put out, Mr Tomlinson- not a protestor but a newspaper vendor walking back to his lodgings-  slipped and fell under a hail of bottles from protesters- and the police did their best to protect him. But according to the record of a camera phone belonging- nice touch this, positively Shakespearean- to a New York fund manager- we can see what really happened was that a policeman attacked Mr Tomlinson from behind. There was no hail of bottles. The police in their dark force armour positively owned that street. And the people who went to Mr Tomlinson's aid were members of the public.

There has been a lot of gloomy media talk about how the British are the most spied-upon nation in the world and how, by tolerating the spread of surveillance cameras, we are sleep-walking towards 1984. But Orwell didn't forsee the camera phone and how it levels the playing field. For every CCTV camera in a public place there are God knows how many camera phones in bags and pockets. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Well, all of us, actually. Any of us. We all of us have the gear.

A Senior Moment

I was convinced we'd booked to go see Alice and James in Leicester today. So much so that Ailz and I had been discussing the pros and cons of driving down the motorway on a holiday weekend. Just as well then that I rang Al yesterday to make sure she was expecting us. Because she wasn't. And quite right too. I checked the calendar and there was the irrefutable evidence. We'd booked for the 18th. Which she and I had then to renegotiate because that's the date of Ailz's next tutorial.

What a mess. I guess this is the outcome of what Ailz and Ruth delicately refer to as  "a senior moment"

So Ailz will do her essay instead. And I will paint my vintage wargaming figures. I completed two yesterday and bid for a bunch more on eBay. The model village is getting to be terribly crowded.