Saturday, February 21, 2009

A historical look at surveillance

Here's a link to an interesting site that looks at the societal aspects of surveillance. In the current edition of their journal, I found a provocative article entitled:  Police use of public video surveillance in Germany 1956: management of traffic, repression of flows, persuasion of offenders

Abstract: "Every technology has its history. What are the beginnings of public television? This article explores the use of police CCTV in West Germany between the 1950s and the 1970s. In these early years, the public police cameras served three functions: the use of cameras in traffic management; the repressive use of cameras at demonstrations; and the persuasive use of the images. The second part of the paper takes a closer look at the third function: surveillance images as a means of persuading offenders of their guilt. It is argued, that a persuasive force exists and is consciously exploited by the police. But this force also weakens over time, when subjects acquire more and more media competence. The police respond to this problem with the transition from still to moving images – and beyond."

The site requires membership, but the registration is free. Check it out. It's interesting reading ... even if you don't agree with their conclusions.

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