Got a Feeling Somebody's Watching Me


The most recent issue of Surveillance & Society compiles articles revisiting Foucault's idea (well, Bentham's idea, but Mikey made it famous) of the "panopticon," a prison of all-seeing eyes, in the context of modern surveillance technology.

NEXT: Conspiracy Corner

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  1. Surely Foucault must say that the idea is contradictory. It’s a man’s idea that seeing everything gets what you must need to be sure of things.

    Then there was the brainwave reading terminal at airports to tell what people are thinking, but it didn’t work on women.

  2. Reg Whitaker argues that the Modern Surveillance=Panopticon analogy is fatally flawed (in his slightly outdated book The End of Privacy). A couple of reasons (I am skimming the forward, and will actually do the reading perhaps this weekend):
    1. The Panopticon creates the illusion of centralized observation, whereas the new surveillance tech doesn’t rely on illusion, it actually does the surveilling.
    2. The Panopticon is like a one-way mirror, whereas the ubiquity of surveillance tech allows Us to watch Them as easily as They watch Us, something that some people (wrongly, I believe) will be beneficial as it creates more transparency in government action, etc.

  3. Boy, glad to see my rousing observations sparked such lively debate.

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