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Participatory Panopticon Update, June Edition
Jamais Cascio, 8 Jun 05

bloodtestmobile.jpgExamples of mobile technologies used to monitor ourselves and our environment -- what I've come to call the Participatory Panopticon -- are coming out fast these days, and it seems simpler to me to just collect recent tidbits and present them all at once. Here's what I've run across lately...

Cellular-News reports that Uppsala BIO, a Swedish biotechnology research group, has developed a blood testing device to be used with cameraphones. According to the description at the Uppsala BIO website:

The chip will be constructed from a polymer, a piece of “plastic”, and will have narrow channels and small compartments. The compartments will hold the solutions and reagents needed to detect the biomarker and to generate light. [...] If the searched biomarker is present, this will trigger a series of chemical reactions that will generate light. The whole process takes place on the surface of a small particle, a nano particle. Antibodies and enzymes are bound to the nanoparticle to recognize and bind the biomarker, and to catalyze the reaction that gives rise to light. The nanoparticles are used to enhance the efficiency of the light generating process and to enhance the contrast between light and no light. Light is generated in the same way that it is generated by fireflies, and can be recorded by a standard camera, such as the ones that are present in most mobile phones. The recorded image is readily communicated to a doctor or other expert for interpretation.

See the illustration at right. Telemedicine via cameraphones is a rising phenomenon. The Swiss researchers have determined that, at least in certain circumstances, diagnoses via cameraphone images can be comparable to in-person examinations. The Uppsala BIO mobile phone blood test, however, is designed specifically to be used with digital cameras and cameraphones. It won't be the last one.

A short while ago, I posted about the agricultural tagging done in Japan allowing shoppers to examine the history of a given vegetable. Now a similar project will be coming to Thailand -- not with vegetables, but with shrimp. The Bangkok Nation reports that shrimp farmers and distributors will soon be using RFID tags to identify where, when and how the shrimp were raised and collected. The Science and Agriculture ministries claim that RFID is used instead of bar codes due to the need to withstand moisture and temperature changes which could warp or ruin a printed code.

The main downside to the project is that RFID readers are not (yet?) standard hardware for consumers, so the food transparency stops at the shopkeeper. Still, it's a step in the right direction -- with each tray of shrimp tagged with origin information, it's going to be hard to tell buyers that they can't find out what the tags say.

Finally, in the realm of location-based services comes "Crunkies:" a terrible name for an interesting idea. As described by Business Week, Crunkies are geography-linked blog posts accessible via mobile phone.

You walk into a Chinese restaurant and your phone buzzes. It's a blog post from a friend with a simple message: Avoid the duck. [...] The idea is that you can leave location-based posts in certain places for your friends. And they pop up when your friends appear.

The cybergraffiti -- which only exists in what might be called 'crunkiespace,' invisible to anyone but authorized viewers -- is another form of urban informatics, and a way of augmenting reality. The Crunkie website is currently down, so it's impossible for now to say just how far they take the idea. There are signs that Crunkies may primarily be just another dating app; according to Emergic, the Crunkie website claims:

Crunkie is a mobile social networking tool that brings the power of your friend group to your mobile phone. Now you will have one place where you can capture and share all your thoughts and experiences.

With Crunkie on your mobile phone, you can find your friends, see what they've been up to, and browse their favorite places. Through the mapping interface you can find each other and hook up while out on the go, or just kickin' it on the weekend.

Marketers using outdated "hip" "urban" lingo. Shudder. Still, maybe somebody not still catering to the youth of 1995 will take the same asynchronous location communication model and do it right.

(Via Cellular-News, Picturephoning and Emergic)

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Comments

question:

what is the difference between participatory panopticon vs. sousveillance?

in terms of keeping a eye on this overall subject, it seems that participatory panopticon does seem to make more sense to people rather than throwing around the terms sousveillance, and equiveillance.

would be curious to her your take on the sousveillance word, and why you avoid it. Alot of persons have similar aversions to it.

all in good fun towards understanding a changing world,

stef, aka cyborgopoulos


Posted by: stefanos on 8 Jun 05

Stef, I don't avoid the term sousveillance -- I use it in the first link of this piece, an article based on the talk I give on the participatory panopticon -- but I see sousveillance as a subset of the ParPan. It's actually a useful term, and a clever neologism, in the context of being a broad-based alternative to surveillance. The participatory panopticon is a bit broader of a concept, however, as it embraces a wide variety of recorded observations and monitoring that have little to do with watching for problems and everything to do with enhancing one's own memory.


Posted by: Jamais Cascio on 8 Jun 05



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