Communication | College of Liberal Arts

Digital Transparencies: The Saturation of Surveillance

Vortrag von Joshua Meyrowitz, Professor und Chair am Department of Communication an der University of New Hampshire, in englischer Sprache am Montag, den 5. September 2011, um 18 Uhr in der Bibliothek des Hans-Bredow-Instituts.

English Abstract

About a half century ago, the boundaries of most households and other settings in Western countries were penetrated by a new medium — mass-broadcast television. For hundreds of millions of people, the aural-visual sensory experiences of their daily lives were no longer shaped almost exclusively by their physical locations. More than radio had done a few decades earlier, with its exclusively aural stimuli, television’s mix of sound and image challenged the age-old environmental dominance of walls and windows, the position of trees and bushes, the slope of the landscape, and the once universal power of simple distance. Yet despite the scale of the transformation, mass television’s impact was largely unidirectional. Television brought images and sounds from afar into the life-spaces of most children and adults. But what people did in spaces — while speaking, reading, eating, walking, shopping, sleeping, flirting, making love, and even watching television — remained largely place-bound. To paraphrase one U.S. city’s slogan, what happened in places, mostly stayed in those places.

In recent decades, however, new technologies and new forms of older technologies have dramatically altered the balance between incoming and outgoing televisual and other information. The wired telephone was once the main medium through which average citizens’ expressions were communicated beyond local space. Now, web cams, mobile phones that double as image and video recording devices, surveillance cameras, social networking sites such as Facebook, video web sites such as YouTube, Radio Frequency ID (RFID) chips, and even DNA testing extend the temporal and spatial projection and impact of individuals’ behaviors. This talk explores the social, psychological, and political implications of these new technologies for systemic and multidirectional surveillance, including state surveillance, corporate surveillance, peer surveillance, and self-surveillance. Among other things, I will suggest that we are seeing an evolution in what we mean by public and private spheres of culture; an alteration in conceptions of the past, present, and future; a more fluid sense of identity; and a technologically assisted reconstruction of social reality.

Zum Gastredner

Joshua Meyrowitz ist Professor am Department of Communication an der University of New Hampshire, USA, und ist hier mit dem Lindberg Award for Outstanding Scholar-Teacher in the College of Liberal Arts ausgezeichnet worden. Er ist Autor zahlreicher Aufsätze und der Monographie „No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior“ (Oxford University Press, 1986, dt: „Überall und nirgends dabei“, 397 S., und “ Wie Medien unsere Welt verändern, 301 S., Psychologie heute Taschenbuch, Beltz Verlag, 1990. übers. Michaela Huber.

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