Justin Jacoby Smith is an organizer, web geek, Buddhist, and poet.

becoming the panopticon

Other scholars of surveillance have first used, and then criticized, the concept of the “Panopticon” as a master metaphor for the conformity-inducing pressures of ubiquitous monitoring. Vaidhyanathan observes that monitoring is now so ubiquitous, most people have given up trying to conform. As he observes: The forces at work in Europe, North America, and much of the rest of the world are the opposite of a Panopticon--they involve not the subjection of the individual to the gaze of a single, centralized authority, but the surveillance of the individual, potentially by all, always by many. We have a “cryptopticon” (for lack of a better word). Unlike Bentham’s prisoners, we don’t know all the ways in which we are being watched or profiled—we simply know that we are. And we don’t regulate our behavior under the gaze of surveillance: instead, we don’t seem to care.

I'm not sure I buy that we don't regulate our behavior--I think this is precisely why everything we do is performative now.

Vaidhyanathan’s Googlization: A Must-Read on Where “Knowing” is Going