Inscription: Surveillance Turned Inside Out

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By Howard Rheingold, Thu Jun 16 08:15:00 GMT 2005

Using mobile devices to snoop on ourselves could augment our memories, improve our health and better our lives, says a Microsoft researcher.

Keep your eye on Marc Smith, the new manager of the social computing group at Microsoft Research, who is thinking about ways to use tomorrow's panoptic snooping technologies -- cameras, microphones, even sensors of your bodily processes -- as a new kind of authoring. "Inscription," he calls it, an artifact of his sociology background.

Smith is worth watching because of his prescient research instincts as well as for the place he works: 15 years ago, he was one of the first sociology graduate students to study social cyberspace: check out Netscan if you want to see a mind-blowing graphical representation of Usenet's hundreds of thousands of discussions. Five years ago, he encouraged me to look into mobile phones and collective action (and suggested that I use the term "smart mobs" to describe what I found). The last time I was at his house, Smith turned me loose with a mobile barcode Googler.

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Monty Solomon
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