SAPP: Secrets, ACLU, Panopticon, and Privacy

I figure I can fit in an early blog post before my flight.

One of the readings this week was the “Panopticon,” a way-centuries old thought experiment for a prison floor plan.  Of course, the reading didn’t really come with pictures, so everything had to be imagined.  Let me lay it out for you in a few sentences or less: a prison laid out in a circular-type structure so that all the prison  cells faced the center where a guard tower is located.  

Yes, that Wikimedia Commons picture up there?  That’s the one our professor showed us, and that is what the prison plan was.  It’s funny, though, when I read it and it made no sense to me, I thought about it some more when I was at work (no customers, of course, ever…) and I thought instead of kidney cells and how they are arranged:

(Compliments of PhysioWeb.com)

Doesn’t that make you think Panopticon, too?

Eh, whatever.

The point was, this set-up for a prison was a very phenomenal concept because the potential to be watched at any and all times was very great.  Prisoners would have to regulate their own behavior because they would feel like they are under constant surveillance.

Some of my classmates didn’t like the idea of being watched all the time, others seemed to accept this fact and not be to perturbed.  Someone, as someone always does, brought up the 1984 debate about Big Brother and all that jazz.  Clearly, we have to be careful since eventually, we might slip into the slippery slope of Big Brother watching us all the time.  And for the record, the 1984 argument is so overused.  I know it is overused because it is a perfect example, but my goodness…pick something else for a change. Talk about the USA PATRIOT Act or something.  (That’s a link to the law, in its entirety.)  And here’s an ACLU video about the act, too.

Though I do have to contend that the PATRIOT ACT is very tricky business, what’s done is done, and there’s no need to write inflammatory things about it or debate it.  It was written and passed in a very critical and scary time, and I’m sure at the moment, the people who wrote it and passed it thought it was a good idea.  Do they look back and congratulate themselves/regret that moment?  Only they know for sure.

I say, for your professional/personal life: Get over it.  You’re an adult, and at this point, you know there are no real secrets (that is one point a classmate made, I completely agree with it).  You choose what to do in your life, and all the choices you make are Yours and Your Responsibility.  Accept the consequences of any and all your actions.  “Taking something back” doesn’t work, the only thing to be done if something goes wrong is to say, “Whoa, I ***ked that up, didn’t I?” and “I am so sorry, I promise it won’t ever happen again.”  And then you pray whoever is the object of your apology is feeling generous in apology acceptance.

And as far as privacy theories go, I am a Privacy Pragmatist for now since I am young.  This means I am willing to trade privacy for something beneficial.  Just like in class, I don’t doubt that as I get older, I will adopt more conservative views towards privacy, especially once I am married and have small children.  My privacy preferences will change because my priorities will change.  No longer will it be acceptable or cool to have drunk numbers like this because I will not be wanting to get drunk all the time.  (By the by, I did select an LOLcat for the drunk image to protect the privacy of all the other people whose pictures come up on Google and Creative Commons when you search for “drunk.”  For shame, you all, don’t let people post pictures of you like that online!)

And on the subject of end use license agreements and other contracts which are twenty miles long, take the time to read them.  You never know what you might find, and it is your responsibility to read them!  I remember going to buy my car, and there was the long long long contract sitting in front of me to sign.  There was a lot of writing and type all over it.  I decided to read the very important parts (meaning all of it), so I sat there and started reading.  It only took me 10-15 minutes, but I can’t tell you how grumpy the salesmen at the dealership got when they realized I was going to sit and read the entire contract before I signed it.  They wanted to do that “Sign here and here and here” number and hurry me through the process.  It was important for me to see what I was getting myself into (this was my first car purchase), and I didn’t want anyone rushing me.

And also, another anecdote: I was with my manfriend last night, and his older brother came in when we were eating dinner all grouchy because of some message he got on his phone.  Now, my manfriend has a twin, and that twin’s fiance apparently shared a secret with the twin’s mother which neither the twins nor the older brother wanted the mother to know about.  But, because more than one person knew about it, it went bad.

This is a case where the following rules from my classmate apply, as with most secrets:

  1. If you want it to be private, leave it in your mind.
  2. If you don’t want it to be said, don’t say it.
  3. If you don’t want it to be read, don’t write it.

Sigh.  Privacy can be so complicated…

Pictures compliments of Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons, and PhysioWeb.

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About sunlightsnow

I am working 40 hours and going to school full-time, which means what little life I can lead will be consumed with work, schoolwork, and sleeping.
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One Response to SAPP: Secrets, ACLU, Panopticon, and Privacy

  1. John Jones says:

    Interesting post. Your conversational writing style is really engaging.

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