View Full Version : Surveillance Theory

July 14, 2011, 06:20 PM
Source: Bentham, Jeremy Panopticon Letters (http://www.cartome.org/panopticon2.htm) Ed.Bozovic, Miran (London: Verso, 1995). p. 29-95 <hr>
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Image: courtesy University College London Library

Go to Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon Letters (http://www.cartome.org/panopticon2.htm) (1787) and detailed architectural specifications for his surveillance machine.
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Theory of Surveillance: The PANOPTICON

The PANOPTICON was proposed as a model prison by Jeremy Bentham (http://www.bartleby.com/65/be/BenthamJ.html) (1748-1832), a Utilitarian philosopher and theorist of British legal reform.
The Panopticon ("all-seeing") functioned as a round-the-clock surveillance machine. Its design ensured that no prisoner could ever see the 'inspector' who conducted surveillance from the privileged central location within the radial configuration. The prisoner could never know when he was being surveilled -- mental uncertainty that in itself would prove to be a crucial instrument of discipline.

French philosopher Michel Foucault described the implications of 'Panopticism' in his 1975 work Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison --

"Hence the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power. So to arrange things that the surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action; that the perfection of power should tend to render its actual exercise unnecessary; that this architectural apparatus should be a machine for creating and sustaining a power relation independent of the person who exercises it; in short, that the inmates should be caught up in a power situation of which they are themselves the bearers. To achieve this, it is at once too much and too little that the prisoner should be constantly observed by an inspector: too little, for what matters is that he knows himself to be observed; too much, because he has no need in fact of being so. In view of this, Bentham laid down the principle that power should be visible and unverifiable. Visible: the inmate will constantly have before his eyes the tall outline of the central tower from which he is spied upon. Unverifiable: the inmate must never know whether he is being looked at at any one moment; but he must be sure that he may always be so. In order to make the presence or absence of the inspector unverifiable, so that the prisoners, in their cells, cannot even see a shadow, Bentham envisaged not only venetian blinds on the windows of the central observation hall, but, on the inside, partitions that intersected the hall at right angles and, in order to pass from one quarter to the other, not doors but zig-zag openings; for the slightest noise, a gleam of light, a brightness in a half-opened door would betray the presence of the guardian. The Panopticon is a machine for dissociating the see/being seen dyad: in the peripheric ring, one is totally seen, without ever seeing; in the central tower, one sees everything without ever being seen."

excerpt from 'Panopticism' in Foucault, Michel Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison (http://www.cartome.org/foucault.htm)
(NY: Vintage Books 1995) pp. 195-228 translated from the French by Alan Sheridan (translation � 1977)
go to Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon Letters (http://www.cartome.org/panopticon2.htm)



July 14, 2011, 06:21 PM
I COME now with the pleasure, notwithstanding the sadness of the subject, to an instance in which the application of the principle will be of the lenient cast altogether: I mean, that of the melancholy abodes appropriated to the reception of the insane. And here, perhaps, a noble lord now in administration might find some little assistance lent to the humane and salutary regulations for which we are chiefly indebted to his care.*
That any of the receptacles at present subsisting should be pulled down only to make room for others on the inspection principle, is neither to be expected nor to be wished. But, should any buildings that may be erected in future for this purpose be made to receive the inspection form, the object of such institutions could scarce fail of receiving some share of its salutary influence. The powers of the insane, as well as those of the wicked, are capable of being directed either against their fellow-creatures or against themselves. If in the latter case nothing less than perpetual chains should be availing, yet in all instances where only the former danger is to be apprehended separate cells, exposed, as in the case of
* Lord Sydney, who in the House of Commons brought in the bill for the regulation of mad-houses which afterwards passed into an act.
prisons, to inspection, would render the use of chains and other modes of corporal sufferance as unnecessary in this case as in any. And with regard to the conduct of the keepers, and the need which the patients have to be kept, the natural, and not discommendable jealousy of abuse would, in this instance as in the former ones, find a much readier satisfaction than it could anywhere at present.
But without thinking of erecting mad-houses on purpose, if we ask Mr. Howard, he will tell us, if I do not misrecollect, that there are few prisons or work-houses but what are applied occasionally to this use. Indeed, a receptacle of one or other of these descriptions is the ready, and, I believe; the only resource, which magistrates find vested in their hands. Hence it was, he so often found his senses assailed with that strange and unseemly mixture of calamity and guilt - lunatics raving and felons rioting in the same room. But in every penal inspection-house, every vacant cell would afford these afflicted beings an apartment exempt from disturbance, and adapted to their wants.

From Pantopticon Letters:


July 14, 2011, 06:22 PM

Is Facebook a virtual Panopticon?

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_swfoAG5voDQ/TR-uKfESKdI/AAAAAAAAAF8/jHF9YYLPe6k/s320/real-panopticon.jpg (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_swfoAG5voDQ/TR-uKfESKdI/AAAAAAAAAF8/jHF9YYLPe6k/s1600/real-panopticon.jpg)
Is Facebook a panopticon?
Does Facebook encourage social conformity, perhaps discipline and more generally paranoia, through its panopticon-like sense of social watchfulness?
The Panopticon is a type of prison building designed by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in 1785. One central watch-tower sits in the middle of a cylinder of cells facing inward. The sensation of the constant possibility of being watched is itself a coercion into good social behaviour.
The idea first came to mind after a friend, Jessica, gave a presentation on how museums were like a cultural panopticon. A site of watchfulness, social instruction, and educational 'improvement.'


July 14, 2011, 06:24 PM
American Panopticon

http://www.hks.harvard.edu/sdn/sdnimages/images.panopticon.jpg (http://www.hks.harvard.edu/sdn/sdnimages/large.panopticon.jpg)

Postcard of an American panopticon: "Interior view of cell house, new Illinois State Penitentiary at Stateville, near Joliet, Ill." <small>Source: Scanned from the postcard collection (http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/%7Ewellerst/collection) of Alex Wellerstein. (Copyright expired.)</small>


July 14, 2011, 06:33 PM
Gives a good explanation.

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July 14, 2011, 06:38 PM
Total Information Awareness (TIA) System


Program Objective:
The Total Information Awareness (TIA) program is a FY02 new-start program. The goal of the Total Information Awareness (TIA) program is to revolutionize the ability of the United States to detect, classify and identify foreign terrorists – and decipher their plans – and thereby enable the U.S. to take timely action to successfully preempt and defeat terrorist acts. To that end, the TIA program objective is to create a counter-terrorism information system that: (1) increases information coverage by an order of magnitude, and affords easy future scaling; (2) provides focused warnings within an hour after a triggering event occurs or an evidence threshold is passed; (3) can automatically queue analysts based on partial pattern matches and has patterns that cover 90% of all previously known foreign terrorist attacks; and, (4) supports collaboration, analytical reasoning and information sharing so that analysts can hypothesize, test and propose theories and mitigating strategies about possible futures, so decision-makers can effectively evaluate the impact of current or future policies and prospective courses of action.

Program Strategy:
The TIA program strategy is to integrate technologies developed by DARPA (and elsewhere as appropriate) into a series of increasingly powerful prototype systems that can be stress-tested in operationally relevant environments, using real-time feedback to refine concepts of operation and performance requirements down to the component level. The TIA program will develop and integrate information technologies into fully functional, leave-behind prototypes that are reliable, easy to install, and packaged with documentation and source code (though not necessarily complete in terms of desired features) that will enable the intelligence community to evaluate new technologies through experimentation, and rapidly transition it to operational use, as appropriate. Accordingly, the TIA program will work in close collaboration with one or more U.S. intelligence agencies that will provide operational guidance and technology evaluation, and act as TIA system transition partners.
Technically, the TIA program is focusing on the development of: 1) architectures for a large-scale counter-terrorism database, for system elements associated with database population, and for integrating algorithms and mixed-initiative analytical tools; 2) novel methods for populating the database from existing sources, create innovative new sources, and invent new algorithms for mining, combining, and refining information for subsequent inclusion into the database; and, 3) revolutionary new models, algorithms, methods, tools, and techniques for analyzing and correlating information in the database to derive actionable intelligence.

Planned Accomplishments:



July 14, 2011, 06:58 PM
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July 14, 2011, 10:35 PM
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