Please register to receive the benefits of our network-wide features. Register (It's Free!) | Log In

Jamais Cascio


Personal Memory Assistants
28 minutes, 13.1mb, recorded 2005-09-17
Jamais Cascio
The value of mobile camera phones as a means to capture events in one’s life will only be further enhanced as these devices become more powerful, their cameras improve, their capabilities increase, and the speed of connectivity continues to grow. There will be an opportunity to view and save everything we do. This is monitoring on a huge scale but we will do it willingly. Moreover, the sheer size of the numbers of people involved will overwhelm any attempts to use this monitoring in a 'Big Brother' way.

Jamais Cascio sees these tools of our transparency as creating what he terms the 'participatory panopticon' and as being the catalyst for massive social transformation. In opposition to standard notions of surveillance, this will see the emergence of 'sousveillance'; individual citizens keeping a technologically watchful eye on the people in charge. This will not apply solely to the political sphere, however, as the ability to share a treasured moment with a loved one or to capture a fleeting moment of beauty will add a new dimension to personal relationships.

Mobile phones are not the best containers for cameras or recording devices and Cascio looks at the future of the technology of the "personal memory assistant". What's needed is a TiVo for your personal life and there are already technical solutions available. These capabilities will come at a cost, however. Not only will we have to learn to cope with a staggering lack of privacy but also to overcome the fact that most relationships, whether personal or business, rely to a certain extent on the misremembering of certain events. There will no doubt also be an effort to limit our ability to record events when our always-on recording devices come into the proximity of items controlled by intellectual property regimes.

Cascio leaves us with a final reflection. Knowledge itself is not power: it is our ability to access or remember knowledge that gives us power.

Our publication of this program was made possible by the support of the following:


Jamais Cascio is co-founder and Senior Contributing Editor at WorldChanging, a global weblog focusing on models, tools and ideas for building the "bright green" future. He has worked for the last decade as a scenario planner and futurist, consulting for groups as diverse as major computer firms, non-profit organizations, government agencies, game and toy companies, and television producers. He has written numerous articles on technology and society for both print and online publications, and is the author of two science fiction books.

Jamais has a double-BA in History and Anthropology from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and a Master of Arts in Political Science from U.C. Berkeley.


This free podcast is from our Accelerating Change series.

For The Conversations Network:

  • Post-production audio engineer: Paul Figgiani
  • Website editor: Graham Stewart
  • Series producer: Cori Schlegel