Monday, November 27, 2006

Look at Me! Look at Me!

The November/December issue of The Futurist magazine carries an article by Patrick Tucker about the "Magic Moments" self-surveillance system that will be introduced at Alton Towers next April. Visitors to the park can choose to wear a radio frequency identification band to wear on their wrist, tagging them while they enjoy the rides so that they can be followed by the park-wide video-capture system. At the end of their day, they will then be able to buy a 30-minute DVD as a souvenir, showing their looks of horror, surprise, laughter, disgust, pain, and nose-picking. Says Tucker:

The notion of putting oneself under video surveillance may sound odd (if not demonstrably vain), but according to privacy experts such as Amitai Etzioni, author of The Limits of Privacy (Basic Books, 1999), there exists a growing trend in putting oneself on display.

"There is definitely a trend under way," says Etzioni. "I wouldn't call it a move away from privacy so much as away from privateness. Even privacy advocates would agree that if you want to give up your privacy for any specific purpose, that's certainly your privilege, and people do it all the time. Privateness is different. The voluntary loss of privateness is definitely on the rise. People have become very willing to disclose things for a number of reasons-for 15 minutes' fame on television, for convenience, for coupons and special marketing incentives, and so on. Keep in mind, in many instances, there are benefits to giving away information about yourself."

Benefits? Or inducements?

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