Sousveillance and surveillance
Definition of Sousveillance: The recording of an activity by the person taking part in the activity. It is
the inverse of surveillance.
In French the word “sur” means above or over so the word surveillance suggests being overseen or
watched from above. While “sous,” means “under” or “below.” Until recently “veillance” was only
performed by corporations or the government through CCTVs placed onto buildings or utility poles.
However with the development of cheaper and portable devices we will now be able watch the
Narrative clip is a small camera the size of a postage stamp. It is clipped onto the person’s breast
pocket and takes a photo every 30 seconds of what is front of the person. The photos are uploaded
onto the cloyd and can be access at anytime using a iphone and android app.
Advatanges of having this:
-Having bad memory especially with remembering people faces
-Reliving special moment that some people cant or weren’t aware they would want to relive later e.g
the everyday experience, the unexpected etc.
-“But most importantly, I want to help hasten our inevitable sousveillance future”
In todays society it is inevitable to be recorded every day. In David Brin’s book, The Transparent
Society: Will Technology Force Us To Choose Between Privacy And Freedom?, he points out that the
issues sint whether there should be pervasive monitoring, instead it lies in who has access to that
data. Will this data only be used by the powerful for the purpose of social control or will the rest of
society be able to view these footage as well.
Maybe it would have been best to live private live without being constantly watched. But that would
require halting technological progress which is too late now. Mass surveillance is now inescapable
due to the minimization of recording equipment, faster processors and much cheaper storage. “So if
I can’t change that reality, I want to be able to watch back as well”.
However Sousveillance has also increased in popularity. When Kodak first introduce and cheap and
portable camera anyone was able to have them but public photography as still viewed as strange
unlike today which is consider strange not to have a internet connected camera. This resulted in
sousveillance-based accountability to be more common, for example George Holliday’s videotape
which should Rodney King being beaten by L.A. police in 1991.
The importance of sousveillance will only increase with the development or portable camera such as
the narrative clip with its constant recordings. In places like Russia where police and traffic courts or
unreliable, along with a legal system that doesn’t always favour first-hand accounts of traffic
collisions, has caused dash mounted cameras to become a necessity for drivers, able to capture
unbelievable car crashes, suicide bombings and a once-in-a-lifetime meteor falling from the sky,
from various angles — something that wasn’t possible a few years ago. “You can get into your car
without your pants on, but never get into a car without a dash cam,” Aleksei Dozorov, a motorists’
rights activist in Russia told Radio Free Europe last year
On the other hand despite wearable cameras being able to capture what surveillance doesn’t as well
as keeping it in check. It will still face some opposition for the fact that it means point the camera at
each other which can make some people feel uncomfortable. Unlike Narrative clip and its two days
battery life, the Google Glass device with its four hour battery and inability to record constantly has
been banned by banks, casinos, schools and hospitals. Despite these institutions has a surveillance
system constantly watching us.
This paradox is captured well by the surveillance camera man on YouTube, who confronts people on
the street with a camera. When people annoyingly ask what he is doing he simply replies “I´m just
taking a video” and points out that there’s no difference between what he is doing and the footage
taken by the CCTV camera which they don't seem to mind. He’s probably trying to show that people
have become so comfortable with being filmed from above yet they feel uncomfortable with the
same thing being done at eye level. He argues that we should feel this same discomfort with the
proliferation of surveillance. However his confrontational style plays a part in the reaction people
give, which can be compared to the way that the Google Glass camera constantly points at the
persons face. Maybe more discrete devices such as the narrative clip will be more accepted by
others and make them feel less uncomfortable.
However the writer of the article points out that this Youtuber might be capturing something else as
well, the end of an era. Humans are flexible and adapt to different technology, so it is very likely that
one day we will be just as comfortable with surveillance as we are with surveillance.
In sociology under the topic of crime and deviance
One of the three approaches to crime reduction is the situational approach. This approach is
concerned with changing the aspects of the environment to increase the chances of dection of crime
and the chances of failure when committing a crime. Together this increases the risks and reduces
the rewards. Many offences are crimes of opportunity for example a car left unlocked, presents a
better opportunity for theft than a locked one. The situational approach aims to reduce these
One of the methods that come under this approach is surveillance. Which allows peoples behaviours
to be observed through CCTV and improving the street lighting which allows people to be seen beter
in the dark. There has been evidence to suggest that Apartments with CCTV and doormen have
fewer burglaries. However this may result in displacement in the place, time and method of crime,
surveillance may simply remove crime from one area to another, from a protected building to a
Article written by Steve Mann
Digital eye glasses will transform society because they introduce a two-sided surveillance and
Institutions will no longer the only ones recording and watching us, surveillance as we know it, but
we will also be watching and recording them back. This will affects both privacy and secrecy.
Todays society is in an era of augmented and augmediated reality.
Most of us use smartphones, which are, in some sense, wearable computers. An example of
augmented reality are Smarphone apps overlay information onto the real world. Augmediated
reality, augment (supplement) and mediate our surroundings. The way we view our surroundings is
modified using a computer we are given information such as the history or directions of that place,
which is placed on top of the visual representation of that place on the screen.
Companies like Google and Apple will soon develop wearable products that can be a part of
everyday life. The main purpose of these products will be that they are able to display information
hands-free such as photos, directions, translation or webcam. This so far is present on smartphones
and the google eye glass, but only to some extent. Mann developed something similar in his lab eye
tap digital eye glass in 1999.
Currently Sousveillence is facing opposition from the authorities who are installing surveillance
cameras are “afraid” of people installing cameras on themselves. Mann gives the example of when
he was physically assaulted by a McDonalds employee for wearing his Digital Eye Glass, while
claiming that they were reinforcing a privacy law that did not exist. The employees damaged the
equipment and caused it to record when it wasn’t initially.
Mann claims that the digital eye glass is the least privacy-invasive camera. Before photography and
video surveillance was invented, the human eye was the only camera and the mind the only
recording device, where images where stored and later put onto paper or canvas through
paintbrushes and pencils. These eye level veillance cause the people to establish rules for privacy
such as using window blinds, or skirts. Therefore these sousveillence technology simple places a
camera onto the same spot where there already existed one. Surveillance on the other hand is more
privacy-invasive since it allow, for example, the cameras placed onto street polls an inanimate object
the ability to observe us from unusual angles. This is different from the digital eye glass since it
provides sight to humans where we already expect it to be.
Similar technology to Mann is being developed by a student from the Royal college of arts in London.
Zou is working on a device that is capable of tracking and taking photos when you blink twice. The
person will need to allow the camera to scan their eyes and recognise them. Then it will download
all of the persons preferred settings and upload the photos using wi-fi. The camera will also be able
to focus in real time to taken videos.
Isn’t it ironic that institutions that constantly keep watch on us feel comfortable when we try to
watch them, why have we come to accept this?
We feel uncomfortable, threatened and disrespected by sousveillence. But we are resilient. In the
future we may grow to accept this the same way as CCTV.