Participatory Panopticon: The Official Version
The Institute for the Future's 2007 Ten-Year Forecast included, as one of the forecast items, the Participatory Panopticon. IFTF is now making past Ten-Year Forecast materials more readily accessible to the public, and I was pleased to see that the Participatory Panopticon document (including a discussion between David Brin and myself) is now available for download (PDF).
A highlight from the Brin-Cascio conversation:
Jamais: Historically, we haven’t done a very good job at making village communities that allow their members to do and become the things that they want. Overwhelming observation has, by and large, been more often used to suppress outside-the-mainstream behavior than to go after the powerful and corrupt. How do you see this emerging world differing?
David: You and I are examples of the sort of people who were burned at the stake in almost any other culture. Yet, in this one, we are paid well to poke at the boundaries of the “box.” I’m pretty grateful for that, and for the millions of others like us, who are allowed and encouraged to bicker and compete and criticize. It is a noisy, noisome civilization and its imperfections may yet kill us all. But is so vastly beats all of the neat and tidy ones that came before.
Now we’re entering a new era when the village seems about to return. With our senses and memories enhanced prodigiously by new prostheses, suddenly we can “know” the reputations of millions, soon to be billions, of fellow Earth citizens. A tap of your VR eyeglasses will identify any person, along with profiles and alerts, almost as if you had been gossiping about him and her for years.
It’s seriously scary prospect and one that is utterly unavoidable. The cities we grew up in were semi-anonymous only because they were primitive. The village is returning. And with it serious, lifelong worry about that state of our reputations. Kids who do not know this are playing with fire. They had better hope that the village will be a nice one. A village that shrugs a lot, and forgives.
I have to say, that last line may be my favorite thing that David has ever said or written.