On rubbing your nose in it

Summary:The Builders Association and D-Box are collaborating on a piece of performance art (a concept that, along with spray cheese, I instinctively distrust) called Super Vision, which reportedly brings you face to face with the reality of your extended, semi-public data cloud. According to a Wired article, information derived from ticket holders' box office receipts and public sources is integrated into the show.

The Builders Association and D-Box are collaborating on a piece of performance art (a concept that, along with spray cheese, I instinctively distrust) called Super Vision, which reportedly brings you face to face with the reality of your extended, semi-public data cloud. According to a Wired article, information derived from ticket holders' box office receipts and public sources is integrated into the show. The goal, according to show director Marianne Williams, is for the audience "to feel datafied--the explosive, incisive effects of the datasphere."

So what?

Imagine seeing your face up on the big screen along with your divorce decree and prior convictions. What a hoot! Of course, it's the function of artists to make us uncomfortable about society's problems (that's why, in totalitarian countries, so many of them get locked up) and this sounds as if it could be very uncomfortable indeed.

There are other examples of confronting people with their own transparency: In 2003, a group of activists skywrote the first five digits of the social security number of Citigroup's CEO over Manhattan. (Citigroup was lobbying for a relaxation of the rules on data sharing.) Congress actually closed down one transparency opportunity: It acted within seconds in 1988 when Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork's video rental records appeared in a newspaper--releasing those records is now illegal absent a court order. Speaking of Congress, you might expect that activists (or artists) would apply their gentle ministrations to the Senators and Representatives who hold our privacy in the palms of their hands. Forget it: Apparently there are rules in the Patriot Act about "intimidating public officials," and lobbing "transparency grenades" probably counts. I wish the Super Vision people all the best: They're part of a crucial discussion to which most people aren't paying attention.

Topics: Legal

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