Corporate & Institutional Communications / English / Journalism / Media

Turning Surveillance on its Head

droneIt’s hard to do anything these days without someone noticing. Between revelations by the now infamous Edward Snowden that the US government is monitoring metadata from a plethora of communication technologies, and evolving social norms that are increasingly accepting of making private information public, it’s becoming clear that our lives are on display.

We’re seeing an increasing number of apps become available that make sharing our worlds easier (even Justin Bieber has created a new selfie app),which has both positive and negative implications. On the one hand, technology is making it easier and, arguably, more fun to keep in contact with each other. But on the other, the sheer amount of data our online activities produce make it easier for “big brother” to keep tabs on us.

Recently, the Atlantic reported that a new app was developed that introduces a bit of a twist to the idea of surveillance. Rather than allowing the NSA and other governmental agencies see what we’re up to, this app points the lens at foreign policy and related actions. The app, called metadata+ (available in the itunes store), catalogues and maps drone killings but the United States.

Drone strikes are becoming increasingly common yet make for difficult subject to talk about. This is especially true for those of us fortunate enough to live in areas of the world where we don’t have to worry about drones. The idea of metadata+ is to bring us a little closer to this experience. According to the app’s developer, metadata+ “tries to transplant the anxiety of those who live below drones to the everyday experience of those very distant from them.”

Shifting the focus of surveillance is an interesting idea in an increasingly transparent world. What do you think? Is increasing transparency in this way a good thing?