Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Group 1's response (Thur. 26, Oct)

1. Michel Foucault, “Panopticism”
In his article, Michel Foucault discusses the panopticon – a prison designed by Jeremy Bentham. The prison is circular with a guard station posted at the radius. The outside walls are windowed so light shines in on the prisoner providing a back light. Another window at the front of the cell shows a guard station, which is not lit/has darkened windows preventing the prisoner from seeing anyone who may be watching him. The theory is that the prisoner will never know when he is being watched, thus he will assume he is always under surveillance. This will keep himfrom breaking the rules as there is a possibility they are being watched. While initially planned for prisoners, Foucault's ideals are currently being implemented in public places worldwide.

Discussion question
1. The theoretical framework of Foucault depends on dichotomy between power/passive citizens exposed to it. Do you think citizens are passive and impotent in resisting to power? Can cyberspace be a tool for citizens to realize the autonomous resistance to “panoptic” power? Or has Panopticism already deeply infiltrated into cyberspace which is considered to be a relatively free space?

(Wanna see how the Panopticon looks like? http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/newhistoricism/modules/foucaultcarceralmainframe.html)

2. Shoshana Zuboff, "Managing the Informated Organization"
This article has many different aspects to it. First is her discussion of technologyand how it changes the world. Zuboff writes, "Technology makes the world a new place" and then goes on to explain Braudel's quote about how people turn to technology when nothing is changing. Technology is obviously going to change the way things are done in the world. Without technology, we would still be building everything by hand and everything would move much slower than it does today. Technology allows us to do things that we were not able to ever do before.The second topic is Zuboff's writing on managers. She writes, "When managers increase their engagement with the electronic text, they also risk a new kind of hyperrationalism and impersonalization, as they operate at a greater distance from employees and customers". This is a terrible thing that is going to happen to society if it does continue on like this. Managers and co-workers should have to speak with each other and not rely only computer and machines, or else why not just let robots run all the businesses?

Discussion questions
1. If we continue to let electronics take over, will businesses continueto run smoothly or do we need people making decisions and interactingwith one another?
2. Is there a downside to technology changing the world at such a fast pace?

3. David Lyon, “New Directions in Theory”
Lyon touches on an interesting dichotomy between the desire to be included in the information flows and the surveillance that accompanies it. In his attempt to explain this relationship Lyon discusses four strands of surveillance theory. The first strand deals with surveillance in relation to political and military factors. The second strand focuses on the bureaucracy of surveillance, asking important questions such as who is controlling this information and how will it be used? The third strand centers on the themes of technologic and the fourth strand spotlights the political economy. These strands show how technology has become central to everyday life, while also showing how technology can produce anxiety due to its power and ability to control. Lyon also discusses the superpanopticon and hypersurveillance, which can be broadly understood as modern surveillance trying to interpret the scattered identities of different individuals. While Lyon does not reject the established theories from people like Max Weber and Marx, he does however, believes that in order to understand surveillance we must look forward for new signs about the future of the information society. In constructing a surveillance theory Lyon believes that three things should be included. The first is the thought of keeping real people central to surveillance. The second is omniperception must continue to be explored and the third is that politics and theories on surveillance should be thought of cohesively.

Discussion Question
1.Do you believe that we are voluntarily participating in our own surveillance by making online transactions, participating in online social networks,using cell phones, banking online, etc.?

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