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Response to Panel Discussion

I found the panel and guest speakers to be fascinating.  I was particularly interested in the first speaker and his issues and concerns with surveillance. As a teacher, his main concern was that his students were not aware that they are being tracked online, and through their phones. Secondly, he addresses a disconnect of knowledge between technology and what it “is” or “where” it goes.

In order to educate his students, he felt that it was necessary to visually represent how tracking works. He pulled up a map, showing all of the places he was tracked through his cell phone. Hundreds of red flashing dots appeared on the screen. He explained that we are constantly being tracked in ways that we are unaware, such as through loyalty cards, EZ Pass, Facebook, etc.

He also explained to us the ideas of the Urban Panopticon and an Oliogoptica. The former as a jail cell format where you don’t know when someone is watching, so you police yourself because you think you are always being watched. The latter he explained, as a multitude of entities watching all at once. I think the second term accurately portrays the environment of today with extreme surveillance, and I think people to an extent should follow the belief of the Urban Panopticon, and police your self, or in other words—don’t over share.

Lastly, another significant concept that was talked about is the disconnect of knowledge. The panelists referred to this idea as the “cloud,” meaning that production happens on one part of the world, while consumption occurs on the other, creating a misconception about technology. People have a misunderstanding that data from the Internet, phones etc. don’t take up space and just exist—where the name “Cloud” comes from; however, in reality data ends up in data centers that use up enormous amounts of materials and thousands of gallons of water. This is something that I, too, did not know.

The panelists brought up a lot of important issues; however, I think the most important issue is education. It is pertinent to educate people on how technology works, the fine print of user agreements, and how people’s privacy is being taken advantage of by mass surveillance.

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