Bansky, in 2008, made this simple provocative four-word statement at Westminster, London. The words, “One nation under CCTV” were painted on the side of a building. But what’s most interesting are the details.
Take a closer look at this picture. The two people are painted in as part of the graffiti. (Including the dog next to the policeman.)
Odd question: Why is the cop photographing this act of ‘vandalism’? He looks as if he’s carefully framing it to to post it on social media.
Another odd question: Isn’t it funny that the policeman is also being ‘watched’ by the closed circuit camera on the wall of the building?
Cameras are so ubiquitous now we seldom notice they are there. We almost expect them to be there. Have we become desensitized to being watched? Recently the Los Angeles Police Department banned the use of facial recognition using an AI platform known as Clearview. The US Congress has been slow in enacting a law that puts some guardrails around facial recognition. It’s called the “National Biometric & Information Privacy Act of 2020’’ It stipulates that “A private entity may not collect, capture, purchase, receive through trade, or otherwise obtain a person’s or a customer’s biometric identifier” unless some conditions are met. Introduced on 3rd August this year, there seems to be no traction on this.*
Clearview AI has been investigated by the media, and lawmakers and found to be engaging into some dark data mining practices connected to facial recognition. The company declares on its website that it is “not a surveillance system.” Commissions in the Australia and the UK opened investigations into this in July.
* Interesting sidebar: The way to see progress of a bill in Congress is through a website, www.govtrack.us. (Yes it sounds like ‘government track us’!) In reality we can track them – so that, in this instance, they pass a law that doesn’t track us.
Last week, students at the summer boot camp I conducted here at Li’l Sprouts Montessori got to work with different technologies. From building robots and circuits, to using cameras and a solar oven. They also used one of the oldest ‘technologies’ that tend to be overlooked – pencil and paper.
But besides motors, and learning the software (to program the robot below) students also learned about engineering design, using toothpicks to build a bridge and a tower.
They did a fair amount of writing, maintaining their journals each day. They worked on essay writing, a news story, and poetry.
On the final day I introduced them to the solar oven, and Tanu helped them bake cookies. One batch got done in just over 30 minutes!
Here’s a batch of pictures taken by my students yesterday. Cameras may seem ‘old school’ but there’s always an interest in the basics of aperture, lighting, and perspective. In my Ed-Tech class, 5th and 6th graders can’t seem to have enough of this, as the results show.
An accidental homage to Silicon Valley?
Two very different perspectives of a robotic arm
There are much more! Who knows what ideas they will come back with after Spring Break?
Today, being Digital Learning Day, I plan to get students to rethink cameras. How could camera create digital ‘stories’?
How would a background give your subject context and proportion?
What could you filter or manipulate a picture before you take the shot?
How could you change the ISO settings to get a different result with the same subject?
Who knows? Some of my students may turn out to be journalists, or take to photography in some shape or form. Despite the fact that most pictures today are taken on phones, understanding lighting and perspective will always be an asset. My 5th grade class was divided into three groups. One with a Digital SLR, and two with regular digital cameras and two tripods if needed.
Here is how one group shot a Lego device. Interesting how one chose the robotics table, and another chose the Moon landing poster as a backdrop.
Or take how they approached this subject. Long shot with an outdoor context vs a close-up shot, adding the human element.
How will citizen participation take shape when everyone is a reporter, a photo-journalist? It’s easy to be cynical, but I have talked to many people about this, in my book, Chat Republic, and have to admit that you win some, you lose some: freedom / security.
Crowd-sourcing, whether it is investigating health issues or knowledge is always a good thing.