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June 12, 2013

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FromArseToElbow

Re "unlike the subjects of Stasi and KGB surveillance, Facebook users are happy to speak for and surveil themselves". I'm not so sure there is as much of a contrast as you think.

In the case of the Stasi, we have been misled by liberal dramas such as The Lives of Others to see surveillance as emotionally involved and particular, but the reality was a surfeit of noise over signal, i.e. http://fromarsetoelbow.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/why-erich-honecker-would-never-have-got.html>institutional incompetence.

It is reported that files were kept on a third of the GDR population and that 1 in 10 were occasional informers. The act of gathering so much data, and the co-option of so many, gave the impression of omniscience, which in turn produced self-repression (most references to Orwell in respect of the http://fromarsetoelbow.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/prism-big-data-and-bloody-tudors.html>NSA/Prism revelations fail to note that this was also the key dynamic in 1984, not surveillance).

Popular reporting on social media focuses on "bad behaviour": the goofs, the over-sharing, the flames and trolling. We pay less attention to "good behaviour", that is the construction of a social identity online and the extent to which this incorporates self-repression. We pay even less attention to the degree to which this self-repression is guided by the service.

Dick Pountain

Guy Debord's second critique - in his 1988 "Comments On The Society of the Spectacle" (http://www.notbored.org/commentaires.html) - is rather less read that the first but now begins to look even more prescient. It describes the power dynamics of a surveillance society.

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