Kevin is playing with using his new helmet-cam to record his everyday experience. I did this a few years ago, trying to record an entire day, using a webcam and my laptop. Mine was, by necessity, shoulder-mounted, rather than head-mounted, which has its own advantages and disadvantages.
The idea runs back to Mann’s sousveillance or Brin’s reciprocal transparency, though I have to say that the term only gets at a slice of what I think this starts to get at. Really, it remains surveillance, and but with you as the “surveillor” and gateway to other people looking in. That is, the camera is naturally a panoptic device, a one-way mirror, and as such you have to wonder who is or will be observing you. When I did this, I wore a label next to the camera saying “You are being recorded,” and this resulted in a lot of discussions like the one Kevin has in this clip.
The emergence, however, of YouTube and similar services changes the nature of the video camera. In the past, there was always the possibility that something captured on a camcorder could be shown to others, and–if interesting enough–sold to the evening news. Now, however, at least in certain circles, there is the assumption that some form of the video is likely to find its way out onto the web. This makes the camera a different kind of device, and our cultural assumptions and public policy will change as this shift becomes complete.
On the one hand, someone taking pictures of a birthday party at a restaurant has become a common thing to see. But when those photos are likely to be published publicly, and facial recognition (either computer-driven or human-driven, as on FaceBook) becomes the norm, that camera takes on a new intrusiveness. One could even see restaurants outlawing cameras; which, of course, also means outlawing camera phones. Already, this is an issue for those going to courts where camera phones are not allowed. Imagine what happens when camera phones are not allowed in a quarter of the restaurants you visit.
I’m glad Kevin has done this. I’ve been planning on retrying my shoulder-mounted cam (in much lower resolution than Kevin’s new camera!) and do a “day in the life” or “week in the life.” While these kinds of experiments have been going on for a long time now within relatively limited groups (mostly wearables researchers), it will be interesting to see the degree to which amateur panveillance becomes more common in the coming months and years.