Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Watching the Detectives (pt 2)

Can't believe a month has gone by since last post but then been busy as the world wakes up to new possibilities - can't talk about those obviously!

What I can talk about follows on from a theme in my presentation on the geoweb stream at AGI last week in which a call was made for the 'community' to become more relevant not just by talking amongst ourselves - "we're all geo" after all - but by talking to others, by engaging with them and becoming integral to their communities of interest. I prefixed this call with, what may have been seen as oblique, references to data driven dystopias and the surveillance state. But methods/madness etc....

And here comes the link to Elvis Costello (used at AGI too). There I was on the M3 on Friday, mid-morning, half empty, breezing southwards (for once not particularly swiftly) and lo and behold, a hidden speed cop (behind the bridge before the services), then a speed bike cop (Winchester services), then an overhead speed van (bridge at Junction 9 I think), then 4 speed cops lined up together on the slip road hard shoulder.

What are we to think - the M3 at midday on a Friday is full of crazies, the Lib Dem leadership is under terrorist alert coming the other way up the M3 or its nearing the end of the month and they haven't reached their targets? This is surveillance gone awry and while we can watch them watching us and can possibly make FoI calls to find out more this flagrant waste of police resources (not to mention the resulting increase in fuel use, brake dust, CO2/NOX/SOX emissions, increased risk of shunts etc from excessive braking etc) there is little debate under whose authority they are watching.

The link to AGI? If we are part of the wider dialogue and not still struggling to be mainstream (which despite protestations to the contrary we are not) then we have a voice of value not just in the enterprise (global, national, local, whatever) but in the wider debate about the sacrifices and freedoms that come with the information age, its sensor webs and ubiquitous presence and the transparency and democracy (or otherwise) and critically language that accompany them.

Geo is pervasive and is increasingly embedded in the data cornucopia available to governments and the commercial sector alike; with the analysis tools that support the mining of these repositories now in the database it may be that geo is mainstream but that the GI and geoweb so vocal in our own company at geo events are not. We need to be for if we are not we will forfeit the right, the freedom, best expressed by Marlene Dietrich, 'to be alone'.

And to think I held on to that rant for 72 hours....