The Oaks Ignore Their Pleas

Cameras Go Social

Posted in General by Jeff Graves on December 28, 2009

Dave Winer just posted his thoughts on the future of sharing photos (any shareable media, really) – introducing the concept of devices that are hard-wired into social networks.  In a nutshell, you take a digital camera, equip it with a wireless connection, and plumb it directly to Twitter, or Facebook, or myspace, or any social network you use to share images.  You then can take a picture, and by hitting a dedicated button on the camera, automatically upload the picture to your social network account, and most likely instruct your social network to send a tweet or an update to your followers/friends that you’ve just uploaded new content.

Having just picked up a Flip video camera for my wife for Christmas, this idea really hits me as a natural evolution of the digital world we’re living in.  Imagine liveblogging a family holiday get-together to family in different parts of the world.  Or sharing moments from a class reunion with classmates who weren’t able to travel to the reunion.  Or sharing a picture along with the price and location of a particular item that’s on sale, that you know your friends might be interested in.

In fact, as I sit here, there are dozens of potential uses for such a device, and more than a few new questions that get raised, as with any new technology.  For example, what if I’m at a concert and I’m liveblogging photos of a particular performance?  Many venues restrict concertgoers from bringing in cameras, but as devices become smaller,and more integrated (as in cell phone cams), will acts attempt to prevent what they may interpret as unauthorized sharing of performance images?

And what if I witness a crime, and liveblog pictures of the perpetrator? Can those images, published to dozens or even hundreds or thousands of followers/friends be used as evidence in a court of law?  Will the existence of those images potentially derail a prosecution, or even open me up to slander or libel charges if the wrong person is arrested on the basis of my pictures?

There has been a lot of attention paid to the images shared on Google Maps “Street View” feature – and those are static images that are updated very infrequently.  What about street level images taken by hundreds or thousands of individual citizens and shared continously, every day?

I’m not sure the existence of a “Twitter camera” creates entirely unique questions and issues, but it certainly might create a lot more situations that fall into legal and social “gray areas”.

This doesn’t create a “new” problem – these issues exist today, and we’ll continue to argue about them and shape our laws and behavior patterns according to our opinions.  But as the distance between a captured image and the  publication to large numbers of people becomes shorter, and more “democratized”, we’ll need to figure out ways to adjust our lives and our rules.  None of that will, (or should) stop someone from offering up a device like that…technology marches on, and we will all continue to adapt to a new world.


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