Conversations

As ideas solidify, I will share my past experiences and future plans for the Conversations, or, Is Anybody Home? project here. I hope to develop and share a theory of how the project will work, some hypotheses, and a flexible protocol for others to use, if interested.

The idea is that personal home security cameras (PHSCs) make some passersby uncomfortable due to the one-sided nature of the interaction. That is, the person with the camera can see us as we pass by, but we cannot see them.

Building on Mann, Nolan, & Wellman's (2003) sousveillance performances, the TenderEyez Conversations protocol will aim to highlight this imbalance by initiating and carrying on a conversation with these cameras that the cameras themselves are unable of participating in. The intended effect is to return power and autonomy to passersby by flipping the one-sided interaction in their favor. It also may serve to bring awareness to those with PHSCs regarding the impact of their participation in neighborhood surveillance, potentially causing them to question their motivation for using PHSCs, as well as their own experiences as passersby interacting with the PHSCs of others.

Though inherently antagonistic in some ways, this project is meant to nurture the development and use of technology that prioritizes reciprocity. While I hope that the Conversations protocol itself will invite that, I think it is critically important to approach the conversation with respect for those with PHSCs and other kinds of cameras (such as public or commercial).