Tag Politics

Surveillance in the Post Boston World

Granary Burying Ground — Boston, Massachusetts

What happened in Boston was a tragedy and it’s amazing how fast law enforcement was able to track down the perpetrators using public and private photos. Just because they were able to track these two via surveillance footage doesn’t mean we all need to be watched more. This simple conclusion jumping is near sighted and of flawed logic.

Surveillance only treats the symptom (more accurately the aftermath of the symptom) and not the cause (lack of community, lack of respect for life, hopelessness, chemical imbalances, etc.). Adding more cameras won’t stop tragedies like Boston it just makes finding the assailants simpler afterwards. We need to look at the tough questions, the ones that potentially stop these tragedies from happening in the first place. Ironically, the populous knee jerk solutions often only add to the root problems. Additional surveillance won’t stop Boston from reoccurring but it will bring us one step closer to Orwellian dystopias becoming a reality.

 

For a counter argument read: We Need More Cameras, and We Need Them Now posted at The Slate. Though if you read closely all the wins were after the crimes occurred, even the preventative nature is based on the fear of getting caught afterwards.

Pepsi Can Turned Social Nightmare

 

Came across this post late last night on Facebook. It’s from an US Military personnel in Iraq featuring a Pepsi can with a cityscape. The image was shared over 30k times by the time I saw it and none of the comments are positive for Pepsi. It goes to show the power of interpretation combined with the power of social media.

Do you find the image on the can offensive?

Refresh Philly: May 2009 Recap

Once again, May’s Refresh had 100+ people in attendance. This month we had “punch and pie,” but I doubt that was the reason for the numbers. Hoping they were there for this month’s speakers, Kellie Carter and Dave Cooksey spoke about user-centered design, it’s history and method.  Followed by Allen Frank, the CIO of Philadelphia, talking about Philly’s digital future.

Allen is on a mission to work out a plan for using the funds from Obama’s Broadband Stimulus Package to improve Philadelphia’s technical offerings. He started his talk by telling us about his background which suggests he “gets it.” Then covered some of the complexities that make up Philly’s technical challenges.

  • Listed as number 27 of 30 most wired cities
  • High percentage of low income households
  • Only 37% have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Percent of college graduates even fewer
  • Initial Wireless Philly project fell apart due to service partner failure

He also covered some of the goals:

  • Increased citizen access to Internet and city services via the Internet
  • Enhanced public safety
  • Aid youth and education (Philly net)
  • Connect patients/students to schools and hospitals
  • Create more Jobs (versus jobs) via a tech based growth sector
  • Add a WI-MAX network to expand public accessibility

The best part was that all these facts and figures were leading up to a request for our input. Not that I have the solution myself, but as a group the ideas were flowing. Some of that energy continued online at the Refresh Philly forums.  Even better, June’s Refresh is going to be a big brainstorming event.  Ideally putting to use some of the methods of rapid prototyping as explained by Todd Warfel of Message First, whom spoke at March’s Refresh event.

Links:
March Refresh
May Refresh
June Refresh
Refresh Philly forums
Todd Warfel

Change is in the air

America welcomes the first Africa-American president, more importantly the first non-Anglo president. America is no longer only refugies from Western Europe. It truly is a menlting pot of the world. Barack, with his background & upbringing is a symbol of this integration of people and cultures.

Still, that’s not the biggest result of Barack Obama’s winning the Presidential race. It was the mobilization of America’s youth (GenX & GenY), whether for him or against, to participate in the political and election process. He motivated the cynical and disconnected to act, to care, to join in the conversation that will shape the future.

Personally, I choose Obama for a future based on hope rather then fear. On unity over division and the failures caused by it. I know there are many obsticles that can keep some these ideals from materializing, but the mental sea change in those that supported him is a step in seeing a world less divided.

Countries all over the world are excited by the end of an era. An era where the US arogantly ignored allies and the will of it’s people. Where the US played bully and police in the same motion. This era is over, replaced with a president that shows diplomacy, honesty and an understanding that we are but one country in this world, regardless of our place in it.

I look forward to see how this man, his ideals and a nation recharged will take on the issues of tomorrow. My cynisism taking a backseat for hope to take its place.

Welcome back America.