Last week, six people died when a private plane crashed into Superstition Mountain near Phoenix, Ariz. Tens of millions of people have since watched a video of the crash that was captured, by coincidence, on a local resident’s webcam. Within hours, it was being played on virtually every television news show in the country and was also distributed to millions on the Web.
What used to be a rarity is becoming commonplace. However, it’s still a bit of a news event in and of itself when unexpected, breaking news is captured by a cameraman or camerawoman who, by accident, luck, happenstance or design, was in the right place at the right time with the right equipment. Digital photography and the Internet now enable any photo or video to be immediately available to the rest of the world.
We now regularly see videos or photos of events we would never have seen before, whether it is the pickpocket on the street, a car crash, silly stunts at work, over-served party-goers, or a famous athlete or actress with a water pipe. This is a new reality. We certainly live in an age of cameras. Most people today carry phones with high-resolution digital cameras. Not only are these cameras mobile and can take pictures at a moment’s notice, but users can also transmit these pictures to the world just as fast.
It’s not just about the people with camera phones either. We have security cameras in many or most of our businesses. We have traffic cameras on streets. We have cameras in hotels and apartment buildings. We have them in gyms and schools. We have them in and around government offices. We have them roaming our streets. We have them in the sky. And, one thing is certain: as many digital networked cameras as we have today, we will have exponentially more of them five years from now.
Soon, almost everything will be caught on camera. We are entering an Omni-Photopic Era. Here is what it will mean for you:
Cameras will be in many more places than where they’re not. Think you can escape cameras? Better stay in your house with blackout blinds closed. Everything else will be public, captured, stored and displayed on-demand to the rest of the world.
You won’t be able to outrun your public past. Fair or not, Herman Cain, like most other politicians, is learning that everything that happened in the past can be replayed and replayed decades in the future. So will your life, very little of which won’t be public. Want to know more about what this might be like? Please read “Public Parts” by my good friend Jeff Jarvis.
Facial recognition becomes the new (once again) unique personal identifier. You will be recognizable everywhere. Worried about “tracking cookies” or cell-phone tracking by Carrier IQ? Every day, we expose a much more unique personal identifier that is largely undeletable: our faces. Why should companies worry about creating artificial biometric identification schemes when faces are plenty unique and identifiable, particularly now that facial recognition technology has hit the mainstream? What smart-phone camera won’t be equipped with facial recognition in five years? Want to better understand this phenomenon? Check out the FTC’s Facial Recognition Technology Workshop in DC next week.
Are you ready for a world where everything is captured on camera? Give us your take in the Comments below.