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Must we already worry about cyborg rights?
July 16, 2012 7:27 PM   Subscribe

Dr Steve Mann, the inventor of wearable computing, relates his computer-vision-aggravated assault by McDonald's employees.
posted by gilrain (287 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Surely there are other places to eat in Paris?
posted by gimonca at 7:32 PM on July 16, 2012 [22 favorites]


Is being freaked out by photography a known characteristic of McDs in France? Anyone got any idea what that's about?
posted by Artw at 7:35 PM on July 16, 2012


"No one at an ordinary McDonald's would even notice such a device. Ergo this was not an ordinary McDonald's, but one with security people looking for cameras. Why would a McDonald's have security people looking for cameras? Possibly because it was a mafia front. If you wanted to launder money, a fast food restaurant in a popular location would be a good place to do it.

The way the employees behaved is consistent with this explanation."
posted by weston at 7:37 PM on July 16, 2012


Ten years ago, he had a similar run-in with airport security. I should also have mentioned, for those not familiar with Dr Mann, that his glasses are physically implanted to some degree.
posted by gilrain at 7:37 PM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


How completely baffling! Somebody on Reddit was speculating (heh) that it might be a mob front or something, but I can't imagine you could get away with the kind of creative bookkeeping a mob front is for in a franchise that's so notorious for getting every single cent you owe them.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:37 PM on July 16, 2012


Your droids -- we don't serve their kind in here.
posted by dhartung at 7:38 PM on July 16, 2012 [17 favorites]


Yeah, I don't understand why he was carrying papers to begin with. Had this been an issue in the past? And he never said why the McDonald's people approached him to begin with. It seems like a lot has been left out of the story.
posted by dawkins_7 at 7:38 PM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have been kicked out of a McDonalds for taking pictures before, too. That Hacker News quote is kind of preposterous.
posted by azarbayejani at 7:38 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The article notes that he found a report of someone who had been harassed when they tried to photograph a menu of a McDonalds in France. I'm thinking maybe this restaurant might have something to hide?

(And wow, those pictures of the perpetrators. Being roughed up by J. Random Asshole is bad enough, but by people wearing those dorky McDonalds uniforms? Since when did Ronald hire enforcers?)
posted by JHarris at 7:39 PM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Err, he's carrying papers because it sounds like they are physically attached to some degree and thus needs a reason to explain why he can't remove them. I imagine going thru airport scanners could be a problem.

I think the McDonald's story sounds a bit preposterous -- why would McDonald's employees care?! I mean other than possibly making rude comments? But that he might think it prudent to carry around papers to explain his device is not at all surprising to me.
posted by R343L at 7:40 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Truly bizarre! Perhaps he could contact an attorney? I can't imagine that - even in the lawless, barbarian wilds of Paris - it's at all legal to just break someone's stuff. Sure you can disallow photography, but to do so you post signs and then ask people to leave if they have photography equipment. You can't just grab things off peoples' heads.
posted by kavasa at 7:41 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Perhaps they're touchy about the fact that it's not really called a Royale With Cheese.
posted by The World Famous at 7:41 PM on July 16, 2012 [13 favorites]


There's something delightfully incongruous about the phrase "Mango McFlurry" turning up in his deposition-like statement.

I agree it doesn't seem like we're getting the whole story.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:42 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I don't understand why he was carrying papers to begin with. Had this been an issue in the past?

I can imagine the need for it in museums, airports and the like. Crappy old McDonalds is probably the last place he imagined it being a problem.

Also if he wants an answer he's wasting his time on Whois and the like, he wants to get himself on the Daily Show or something.
posted by Artw at 7:42 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems like a lot has been left out of the story.

I don't think so. They might have said something about cameras (which would be awful itself), but he can't physically remove it. And he had a note from his doctor.

Why the hell does a McDonalds care about a camera in their restaurant? What is wrong with taking pictures? My iPad has two cameras in it, as do most cell phones, can you not have those devices in McDonalds now? Maybe only French ones?
posted by JHarris at 7:42 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Maybe some are put off by Steve's appearance? I remember seeing a movie about Dr. Mann back in 2002 called "Cyberman," and I recall a scene where he intentionally went places (like Walmart) that did not allow photography on their property in order to provoke a response. I wonder if this is a similar situation.
posted by crunchland at 7:43 PM on July 16, 2012 [15 favorites]


Well, after the French Police, but they appear to have been useless.
posted by Artw at 7:43 PM on July 16, 2012


Yeah, that quote from Paul Graham is ridiculous. As has been pointed out in that hacker News thread, this is the one of the largest and most prestigious McDonald's locations in France. Also, this would be about the stupidest possible way to launder money. Only the Cult of Paul Graham gave that theory legs at all.
posted by gilrain at 7:44 PM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Blogging sounds like the wrong way to go about it. I say set up a scene. Have someone in that problem restaurant doing some overt photography, and an accomplice a short distance away with a hidden camera documenting it all. Upload to YouTube, have a reference to the digital eyeglass thing and the menu photographer debacle, and you'll have an instant shitstorm, page views, ad revenue, and a PR problem for the company.
posted by crapmatic at 7:45 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what could possibly be left out of the story that would make the following actions reasonable:

1) Tearing up the note instead of just handing it back to him and saying "we don't think this is sufficient."
2) Attempting to remove someone's lawfully-held property from their possession.

I don't care if he walked in and started screaming about how he could see everyone naked and he was uploading naked video right this second and then punched a clerk or something. They can eject him from the restaurant, and they can call the police, but there is no possible additional story that explains or excuses those two facts.
posted by kavasa at 7:47 PM on July 16, 2012 [30 favorites]


Why the hell does a McDonalds care about a camera in their restaurant? What is wrong with taking pictures? My iPad has two cameras in it, as do most cell phones, can you not have those devices in McDonalds now? Maybe only French ones?

All kinds of businesses have camera rules.

A few years ago, my father was asked to put his camera away in a Pinkberry. I can guess why, because all of the copycat Pinkberry restaurants. Maybe they thought he was doing some (really bad) corporate espionage.

I can understand McDonalds having a similar reasoning.
posted by azarbayejani at 7:48 PM on July 16, 2012


Surely there are other places to eat in Paris?

He does mention he has children.

That Hacker News quote is kind of preposterous.

You're not suggesting that Paul Graham would say something preposterous, are you? ;)

I actually agree that zeroing in on that particular explanation as the most likely one is over the top. But on the other hand, this is a weird enough interaction that *some* kind of speculation that there's more than just a couple of overly authoritarian/macho security guys seems reasonable.
posted by weston at 7:49 PM on July 16, 2012


there is no possible additional story that explains or excuses those two facts.

France.
posted by incessant at 7:50 PM on July 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


He should try contacting Consumerist. They're pretty good at shaking the corporate tree.
posted by hippybear at 7:54 PM on July 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


France.

I can imagine the NYPD not wanting to be bothered with some foreign tourists weird tale. On the other hand I can't imagine anyone at a NY mcDonads wanting to being this heat down upon themselves.
posted by Artw at 7:57 PM on July 16, 2012


Yeah, I don't understand why he was carrying papers to begin with. Had this been an issue in the past?

Not as if the line of thought involving challenging Dr. Mann carrying paper's documenting his medical devices has anything productive at the end of it, but people with far less exotic medical implants (steel plates, for example) generally need to carry such paperwork while travelling.

If I had such an implant, you can bet I'd be carrying those papers with my passport and other ID pretty much anywhere I went.

Surely there are other places to eat in Paris?

The one great thing about McDonalds is consistency. If I'm travelling and have gastritis from drinking a bit too much or indigestion in general and want some comfort food and have no access to my regular cafes and restaurants McDonalds is familiar and (after enough greasy spoon diner meals) eminently digestible.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 7:59 PM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I don't understand why he was carrying papers to begin with. Had this been an issue in the past?

I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Mann at a conference while we were both Guides at About.com. My understanding (and it's been a while, so I may be misremembering) is that yes, it has been an issue in the past. And I met him prior to September 11th. I can't imagine how much negative attention he can attract, particularly around airport security...

People fear what they don't understand and Dr. Mann's physical appearance is sometimes confusing to some people. I don't blame him at all for carrying documentation with him, particularly if he's going to museums and such, in a foreign country, where security is liable to be fairly strict. (Mona Lisa, anyone?)
posted by juliebug at 8:01 PM on July 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


I, for one, will not eat at McDonalds under any circumstance until this issue is settled to his satisfaction.
posted by varion at 8:01 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Riiiighht.. a Mob front. The Mob uses franchises of the chain with the most central corporate control. The mob would get laundromats or parking lots, places where you deal in cash and nobody keeps track of anything. Or at least Subway, who know what the fuck goes on in those places.

I bet they thought he was some kinda CIA superspy or something and it was plain old anti-Americanism.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:01 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


NYC Mikey Dee's, they'd be all shooting him with their iPhones, cuz tots fr33ksh0. Welcome to the future Mr. Skull-implant, can I take your order?
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:02 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember seeing a movie about Dr. Mann back in 2002 called "Cyberman," and I recall a scene where he intentionally went places (like Walmart) that did not allow photography on their property in order to provoke a response.

I knew him slightly at university when we were both undergrads. He at best an acquaintance of an acquaintance but -- and I say this as someone who thinks he was maltreated inexcusably here -- I recollect that he was very interested in pushing people's buttons. I agree with dawkins_7 that we seem to be missing a lot of the context here.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:03 PM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


I thi k it being a plain old McDs with a previous beef against photographers is more likely than the mob - but what? Militant name-and-shame vegetarians?
posted by Artw at 8:04 PM on July 16, 2012


On the evening of 2012 July 1st, my wife and children and I went to McDonalds at 140, Avenue Champs Elysees, Paris, France
Well, there's your problem right there!
posted by anewnadir at 8:06 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Riiiighht.. a Mob front. The Mob uses franchises of the chain with the most central corporate control. The mob would get laundromats or parking lots, places where you deal in cash and nobody keeps track of anything. Or at least Subway, who know what the fuck goes on in those places.

Maybe a fried chicken joint?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:10 PM on July 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


Dude should write a letter directly to Doug Goare, President of McDonalds Europe:

http://www.aboutmcdonalds.com/mcd/our_company/leadership/doug_goare.html

Fax the letter, do not email.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:14 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Maybe a fried chicken joint?

Flame-grilled, southwest-style, using the Hermanos' secret recipe.
posted by The World Famous at 8:15 PM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


He explicitly states that he was carrying the papers because he had been to museums and historical landmark sites guarded by military personnel that day.
posted by merocet at 8:15 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I recollect that he was very interested in pushing people's buttons.

Weird-looking guy with prosthesis did not deserve to be roughed up, but the tone of this bit
when the computer is damaged, .... buffered pictures for processing remain in its memory, and are not overwritten with new ones by the then non-functioning computer vision system.

As a result of Perpetrator 1's actions, therefore images that would not have otherwise been captured were captured. Therefore by damaging the Eye Glass, Perpetrator 1 photographed himself and others within McDonalds.
seems very defensive and wiggles my technical bullshit meter. But we really don't have enough information yet to make good judgements.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:18 PM on July 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


The tab in my browser with truncated title says "Physical ass.."

But, poor guy. I'm sure the internet will make things better, though.
posted by arsey at 8:18 PM on July 16, 2012


I, for one, will not eat at McDonalds under any circumstance until this issue is settled to his satisfaction.

I joined this boycott almost 30 years ago.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:19 PM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a result of Perpetrator 1's actions, therefore images that would not have otherwise been captured were captured. Therefore by damaging the Eye Glass, Perpetrator 1 photographed himself and others within McDonalds.
seems very defensive and wiggles my technical bullshit meter.

"Are you taking pictures of me with that thing?"
"You're taking pictures of you with this thing!"
posted by arsey at 8:22 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


He may be weird and interested in pushing buttons, but that doesn't mandate instant escalation to assault.
posted by arcticseal at 8:25 PM on July 16, 2012 [11 favorites]


First off, I've met Dr. Mann, who seems very, very earnest about his technology and lifestyle. He is not twisted or evil.

That being said, since meeting him, I have been waiting to use the line, "He's more machine now than Mann. His mind is twisted and evil."

That is all.
posted by blahblahblah at 8:25 PM on July 16, 2012 [15 favorites]


"when the computer is damaged, .... buffered pictures for processing remain in its memory, and are not overwritten with new ones by the then non-functioning computer vision system."
[. . .]

"seems very defensive and wiggles my technical bullshit meter. But we really don't have enough information yet to make good judgements." --benito.strauss

I took this to imply the system must have two (or more) orthogonal parts. One part which captures images and stores them to a non-volatile cache (such as an SD card) and then the second part which loads, sequences and displays the images.

To me, this isn't a strange design (and I would probably design such a system along those lines) for ease of debugging/simulations and reliability of the individual modules.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 8:27 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


The eyeglass is permanently attached and does not come off my skull without special tools.

If I saw an assailant trying to tear off what at first blush appeared to be a prosthesis for a person with impaired vision, thereby causing the prosthesis wearer great pain, it would take me about 3 seconds to default to hitting the assailant in the face repeatedly with the heaviest object within my reach.

I'm equal parts shocked and disgusted that that didn't happen to the nametag-toting asshole here.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:30 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


The details are weird. The flavor of McFlurry is noted but then this:

I also contacted the Embassy, Consulate, Police, etc., without much luck.

What does that mean?
posted by IvoShandor at 8:40 PM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


How is this in any way cyborg technology? Near as I can tell the dude wears a camera, monitor and topical sensors. I have an equally capable device in my iPhone, probably better because of Apple's buying power on the hardware side and the massive amount of developers on the software side. Should I tape my iPhone over one side of my glasses and walk around as the world's second cyborg? His glasses can't immediately be removed because he glues the electrodes to his scalp. He "never forgets anything" because he records everything on camera, like my uncle does with a camcorder. I know that's not supposed to be the takeaway here but I'm gagging on the hyperbole. The emperor has no clothes man.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:40 PM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


seems very defensive and wiggles my technical bullshit meter. But we really don't have enough information yet to make good judgements.

Yeah, the Transmet "my glasses Take pictures when knocked" thing sounds suspect - on the other hand, don't fucking knock the dude. Your McDonaldsy secrets are not worth it.
posted by Artw at 8:41 PM on July 16, 2012


First world problems.
posted by gallois at 8:48 PM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree 2buckplus. The entire story sounds like hyperbole to me. Like, yeah, a guy had a bad time in McD's. But a cyborg? Nah.
posted by rebent at 8:51 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have an equally capable device in my iPhone, ... Should I tape my iPhone over one side of my glasses and walk around as the world's second cyborg? ... The emperor has no clothes man.--2bucksplus

Check out the photos at the bottom of the Wikipedia article about him. He's been doing this since 1980, when back Apple was making the Apple II, and cell phone cameras (much less an iPhone) were not to come for another 17 years.
posted by eye of newt at 8:51 PM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Check out the photos at the bottom of the Wikipedia article about him.

The "late 1990s" pic looks like your typical French dude. Should've gone with that.
posted by goethean at 9:00 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm still sort of puzzled as to whether it is or is not an actual assistive device. But let's assume for a moment that it absolutely isn't. In fact, let's say it's bogus self-entitled publicity seeking. So what? The McDonalds people then may well have every right to refuse him service and eject him from their restaurant. But whether it's a phone, a camera, or a sign that says eat at Burger King, they have no right to attempt to grab any piece of his property or rip up any document he has. So, unless he's outright lying he has in fact been assaulted and had property damaged and destroyed. I really weary of every desk clerk or restaurant manager trying desperately to assert their imagined "authority".
posted by tyllwin at 9:02 PM on July 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


First world problems.

Assault is not a "First world" problem. Assault is an All world problem.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:03 PM on July 16, 2012 [23 favorites]


Dr. Mann's physical appearance is sometimes confusing to some people

Much better than tattoos or piercings.
posted by stbalbach at 9:03 PM on July 16, 2012


I know that's not supposed to be the takeaway here but I'm gagging on the hyperbole. The emperor has no clothes man.

You have a strange definition of "emperor."
posted by incessant at 9:03 PM on July 16, 2012


On one hand, I hope he gets made whole and then some by McDonald's.

On the other hand, it seems like a public service to beat up a tourist who voluntarily decides to eat at McDonald's while in Paris. Maybe not a beat down, but at least a stern talking-to. The same service might be offered to Starbucks customers in Seattle.
He does mention he has children.
I brought some fancy cheese to a potluck dinner once. The 2-year-old ate about half the block of cheese.

I'm just sayin'.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:03 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obviously boycotting Paris is the only answer. Works for me.
posted by smidgen at 9:04 PM on July 16, 2012


It's Raining Florence Henderson: Assault is not a "First world" problem. Assault is an All world problem.

Channelling Jeff Foxworthy: If you can eat at McDonalds while calling yourself a cyborg.... you might be a first worlder.
posted by dr_dank at 9:22 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


kavasa: "I'm not sure what could possibly be left out of the story that would make the following actions reasonable:

1) Tearing up the note instead of just handing it back to him and saying "we don't think this is sufficient."
2) Attempting to remove someone's lawfully-held property from their possession.

I don't care if he walked in and started screaming about how he could see everyone naked and he was uploading naked video right this second and then punched a clerk or something. They can eject him from the restaurant, and they can call the police, but there is no possible additional story that explains or excuses those two facts.
"

Suppose McD's customers were irrationally spooked by Dr. Mann's stuff and complained. The McD management comes out and asks him to leave. He acts outraged, claims he has documentation which gives him the right to be there, refuses to go. Management wants him out, doesn't want to have to wait for the police to show up while their customers panic, attempt to physically escort him from the premises. In the ensuing scuffle his hardware gets bumped around, possibly damaged. Similarly his documents might become ripped, especially if he was waving them in someones face. Not hard to see how some paper could rip and some fragile hardware could be damaged, especially if they were being carried by an unwelcome guest who refused to leave and had to be not-so-gingerly removed from the building.

Later, he goes on the web, describes things his way. He was minding his own business when he was unreasonably assaulted by McDonalds employees.
posted by Reverend John at 9:23 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


The prhase "first world problem" is pretty gross and fetishizes colonialism and other shitty ils.
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:24 PM on July 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


I feel very ashamed that I REALLY want some McD's french fries right now.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:26 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Management wants him out, doesn't want to have to wait for the police to show up while their customers panic, attempt to physically escort him from the premises.

....yeah, since he's there with two children (a younger girl can be seen handing money to the cashier in one picture), I don't think the other customers reactions are all-out-freakout at the freak, seeing as he's eating food with wife and kids which falls under the spectrum of tres normal.
posted by dabitch at 9:26 PM on July 16, 2012


And if the political prisoner is being belligerent and uncooperative, it's easy to see how he might end up falling down the stairs.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:26 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Much better than tattoos or piercings.

Agreed. I'm kinda baffled by the people here going, Oh, he's an attention-seeker, he likes to rile people up, so...people have the right to assault him? What?

Technology aside, let's say Mann was a leather-clad punk biker with attention-grabbing giant green mohawk, tattoos, and multiple facial piercings. Would it be okay to grab his eyebrow ring and rip it from his face (right by his EYE, OWW)? Especially if he'd just handed over a doctor's note stating that it was medical jewelry and also embedded in his flesh, not a clip-on earring? Why or why not?

Or with technology, what if Imogen Heap wore her Twitter dress to McDonalds and furthermore was not content to peaceably order and eat her food like Mann--instead live-tweeting about how awful McDonald's food was, or at least informing the Twitterverse her intent to blog about her visit later? Would it be okay to rip the dress off her body, or order that she strip in the restaurant? Why or why not?
posted by nicebookrack at 9:27 PM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Similarly his documents might become ripped, especially if he was waving them in someones face.

Yeah... you didn't actually click through and look at the photos, did you? There is a pretty obvious photo of a man tearing up some papers, and it's not at all the kind of scenario you describe here.
posted by hippybear at 9:27 PM on July 16, 2012 [13 favorites]


Meh, if he actually cares he should just sue McDonalds. He'll can find out whatever he wants during discovery. That's how adults solve these kinds of problems, not by blogging.
posted by ryanrs at 9:32 PM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


My first thought upon reading the account and seeing the pictures of the whited-out "perpetrators 1-3" was that this was the disturbed ramblings of a mentally ill person. The website frankly makes that case pretty well.

But since apparently this guy is a known figure who is not known to be crazy, I'm guessing maybe French McDonald's are touchy in response to the anti-fast-food protests that sometimes pop up in France?
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:33 PM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that quote from Paul Graham is ridiculous. As has been pointed out in that hacker News thread, this is the one of the largest and most prestigious McDonald's locations in France. Also, this would be about the stupidest possible way to launder money. Only the Cult of Paul Graham gave that theory legs at all.

This week's episode of This American Life was named "Hiding in Plain Sight". Coincidence... or conspiracy?
posted by Apocryphon at 9:33 PM on July 16, 2012


If you can eat at McDonalds while calling yourself a cyborg.... you might be a first worlder.

Ooh, OK, and then it's cool to steal your stuff, and destroy it, right?

Later, he goes on the web, describes things his way. He was minding his own business when he was unreasonably assaulted by McDonalds employees.

Except that would be him, umm, oh, yeah "outright lyin' through his teeth." I mean, maybe he is lyin' through his teeth. But either he is, or McDonald's is in the wrong. there's no middle ground that I can see.
posted by tyllwin at 9:34 PM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you can eat at McDonalds while calling yourself a cyborg.... you might be a first worlder.

If you honestly think that how someone looks, what they call themselves, or what or where they choose to eat is in any way relevant to whether they should be afforded basic human rights... you might just be a bigot.

(Not you, personally, dr_dank. I assume you were just going for the easy Foxworthy gag. So this is my take on the same gag.)
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:35 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is, like, the Rosa Parks moment for the Singularity movement, people!!
posted by Bwithh at 9:39 PM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Dr. Mann was fortunate to be a white cyborg.

For those who haven't visited France recently, the way Immigration at CDG works is that everyone passes through a pat down room. White people walk through, unmolested. Only people with dark skin get searched. All people with dark skin get searched.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:40 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dr. Mann is an attention whore.

There's no nice way to put it. He purposefully pushes the boundaries of social conventions and mores in an attempt to get attention and push a future he believes absolutely in. It's part politics, and part voyeurism.

That said, he is one of the pioneers of wearable computing and post-Wiener cybernetics. Like eye of newt mentioned, he's been doing this work for decades.

Steve Mann is to cybernetics what the gay-pride parade is to homosexuality.

They're both out there, in your face, and unashamed in their pride and self-identification.

And I say of somebody who has been following Mann and his work for close to a decade myself. While Photography is not a Crime has been spreading its message for 5 years or so now, Mann has been spreading the ideas of Sousveillance and the like for decades.

I'm glad Google's Project Glass is finally bringing this technology to the mainstream. To people like Mann and myself it's been inevitable and obvious. Soon your Aunt Sue will be the one getting questioned by small authority figures with too much time and power on their hands just because they're recording everything. It's good Mann has been pushing this idea, but it's better that it's finally getting into the hands of everyone else.
posted by formless at 9:49 PM on July 16, 2012 [16 favorites]


Sorry, exhibitionism, not voyeurism. But I suppose you can't have one without the other.
posted by formless at 9:56 PM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised there's so much backlash against this guy in this thread. Seems like what happened to him was outright assault. His language is a little clunky and rigid in his blog, but that just made me feel for him more. I thought Metafilter was more pro-glasses wearing techie scientists than this.
posted by sweetkid at 9:56 PM on July 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


Dr. Mann is an attention whore.

Paris Hilton is an attention whore. Dr Mann is a respected academic who happens to look a bit odd.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:02 PM on July 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


Steve Mann explains his cyborg technology, the EyeTap. Not sure how old this video is ... might date back several years.
posted by crunchland at 10:07 PM on July 16, 2012


"my glasses Take pictures when knocked" thing sounds suspect
AFAIK that's basically how every PVR since Tivo has handled live video: data is stored in a ring buffer, new incoming video overwrites video N minutes old, and so if the plug gets pulled then those last N minutes never get overwritten and are available for later examination.
posted by roystgnr at 10:08 PM on July 16, 2012 [10 favorites]


If things are even close to how they are presented, I'm unsure how Dr. Mann is not a McMillionaire VERY soon. IANYL, IANYCL (I Am Not Your Cyborg Lawyer). YFRMV ( Your Frame Rate May Vary).
posted by Bohemia Mountain at 10:26 PM on July 16, 2012


You have to understand that the good doctor is a privacy fanatic - none of the images he sees are kept until/unless something happens to to his device. his language is clunky because he is trying to keep everyone's privacy sacrosanct but wants his medical device repaired.

The McDonalds is on Avenue Champs Elysees the center of all things French and Parisian and the date is July 1 - about 2 weeks before the 14th of July !Bastille Day! - not quite the equivalent of our 4th of July but pretty damn close. Those 'McDonald's' employees could easily have been some sort of French equivalent of secret service/ATF/CIA/government thugs trying to save France from some sort of 'secret plot'

I don't have a real answer to what happened but the date and location are probably important.
posted by GrimJack at 10:28 PM on July 16, 2012


Not hard to see how some paper could rip and some fragile hardware could be damaged, especially if they were being carried by an unwelcome guest who refused to leave and had to be not-so-gingerly removed from the building.
Even if there weren't a still frame of a guy tearing up the paper (and there is), your hypothetical falls down at the "didn't want to wait for the police."

Actually, my first post was hyperbolic: if the guy actually attacked other people, I have no problem with them defending themselves. But short of this guy actually assaulting someone, there's no possible "rest of the story" that would justify what occurred. And we can of course see in the still frames that very much does not seem to be what happened.
posted by kavasa at 10:43 PM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a brief article on Tech Crunch now. It's on Reddit too.

Hopefully, the internet will rise up in a torrent of rage and pitchforks, and McDonalds will respond.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:44 PM on July 16, 2012


On the other hand, when the machines rise up against us, McDonalds Jerk might just save humanity.
posted by ryanrs at 11:06 PM on July 16, 2012


I am a little shocked that someone finds it more likely that the mafia is running a criminal front out of some of the most expensive real estate in Europe, than that a visitor was treated badly by Parisian service employees.
posted by Winnemac at 11:11 PM on July 16, 2012 [20 favorites]


I thought Metafilter was more pro-glasses wearing techie scientists than this.

Obviously, the assault is completely indefensible.

That said, if McDonalds don't want their customers taking photographs inside their joint, they're perfectly within their rights to ask them to leave. One would hope that he'd have some method of switching off his recording device while he complied with their request.

Paris Hilton is an attention whore. Dr Mann is a respected academic who happens to look a bit odd.


If he didn't glue this device to his scalp, I might agree with you. However, by making it a permanent fixture when there's no obvious advantage to doing so, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that he's seeking to provoke confrontations of this sort.

I can't think of a better definition of attention whore, respected academic regardless.

The film above in which he discusses his invention talks about the glasses, not as a device for correcting defective vision, but as a device for continuously communicating with the world -- suggesting that he's continuously got these things hooked up to the internet.

In light of that, it's hard to suspect that his 'doctors letter' is really just a convenient device to allow him to get around the rules regarding film and photography in locations where they reserve the right to disallow that practice.

In the absence of more information regarding his sight defect and how these glasses correct for that, I suspect this guy of being a Grade A, overly entitled attention whore who is smart enough to anticipate these reactions and by gluing this device to his scalp, chooses to ignore the rules and seeks to obstruct people from implementing them. He should hardly be surprised that he gets a little pushback from time to time -- and this clearly isn't the first time that it's happened.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:14 PM on July 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


Apparently, Mr. Mann is no stranger to such incidents. 10 years ago, he caused a considerable ruckus while trying to board a plane in Canada. The Canadian security personnel eventually took away his toys, and then this:

"Without a fully functional system, he said, he found it difficult to navigate normally. He said he fell at least twice in the airport, once passing out after hitting his head on what he described as a pile of fire extinguishers in his way. He boarded the plane in a wheelchair."

At the very least, he seems to be a bit of a drama queen.
posted by sour cream at 11:25 PM on July 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


This happens to me a lot, except for the robotic glasses and the French McDonalds parts.
posted by newdaddy at 11:33 PM on July 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


formless: Dr. Mann is an attention whore. There's no nice way to put it.

Really?

He purposefully pushes the boundaries of social conventions and mores in an attempt to get attention and push a future he believes absolutely in. It's part politics, and part voyeurism[/exhibitionism].

That seemed like a nicer way to put it.

Steve Mann is to cybernetics what the gay-pride parade is to homosexuality.

Moving on...

PeterMcDermott: Obviously, the assault is completely indefensible. That said, if McDonalds don't want their customers taking photographs inside their joint, they're perfectly within their rights to ask them to leave.

Let's see now.
while we were standing in line at McDonalds, I was stopped by a person who subsequently stated that he was a McDonalds employee, and he asked about my eyeglass
...
I showed this doctor's letter and the documentation to the purported McDonalds employee who had stopped me in the McDonalds line.

After reviewing the documentation, the purported McDonalds employee accepted me (and my family) as a customer, and left us to place our order.
...
Subsequently another person within McDonalds physically assaulted me, while I was in McDonand's, eating my McDonand's Ranch Wrap that I had just purchased at this McDonald's. He angrily grabbed my eyeglass, and tried to pull it off my head. The eyeglass is permanently attached and does not come off my skull without special tools.
I'm not too familiar with French. My sister studied it in school and loves it, and throws a phrase into a conversation whenever she can. Next time she angrily grabs at my glasses, I'll know she's really saying "excuse me sir, your eyewear troubles me. would you please leave my family-themed restaurant?"

Or less snarkily: going from the story as told in the OP's link, your second paragraph does not follow from your first. According to the story he was not asked to leave prior to the assault. Unless your suggestion is that he's a liar.

Sorry, not a liar:

I can't think of a better definition of attention whore

Yeah, that.

sour cream: he seems to be a bit of a drama queen.

Moving on...

Winnemac: I'm surprised there's so much backlash against this guy in this thread. Seems like what happened to him was outright assault.

No kidding.
posted by dumbland at 11:39 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe some are put off by Steve's appearance?

If that's how he looks, I suspect they thought he was a crazy street person who had glued some tinfoil and wires on his head and needed to be ejected before he started peeing on the tables or throwing food.
posted by Forktine at 11:40 PM on July 16, 2012


it's hard to avoid the conclusion that he's seeking to provoke confrontations of this sort.

At the very least, he seems to be a bit of a drama queen.

I don't really get all the character assassination going on in this thread. The guy is making a public fuss about something that happened in front of witnesses and, presumably, security cameras.

If he's a liar (and never having heard of this guy before, I have no fucking clue) he's going to be found out very quickly. Everything he's said is totally falsifiable if McDonalds releases security footage. So maybe cut the guy some slack for eating at a fast food joint with his wife and kids with a computer glued to his head* because as far as we know that's all he was doing.

*probably important to note that like 90% of people in this thread walk around with a computer of comparable power to this guys' in their pocket or in their hand at all times. Would you be ok with getting thrown out of a McDonalds because your iPhone has 2(!) video cameras on it?
posted by no regrets, coyote at 11:41 PM on July 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


it's hard to avoid the conclusion that he's seeking to provoke confrontations of this sort. I can't think of a better definition of attention whore

I suppose by that definition Ghandi and Rosa Parks were attention whores too.

a convenient device to allow him to get around the rules regarding film and photography in locations where they reserve the right to disallow that practice

Photography is not a crime.

At the very least, he seems to be a bit of a drama queen.

Don't fight it son. Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could ruin your credit rating!
posted by j03 at 11:41 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


If he didn't glue this device to his scalp, I might agree with you.

There is a picture of the specific device in question in the blog post. It doesn't include electrodes glued to his scalp. From the post:

Although it has varied over the last 34 years, I have worn the present embodiment of this system (pictured below) for 13 years. This simple design which I did in collaboration with designer Chris Aimone, consists of a sleek strip of aluminum that runs across the forehead, with two silicone nose pads.

However, by making it a permanent fixture when there's no obvious advantage to doing so, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that he's seeking to provoke confrontations of this sort.

Just because it's not obvious, doesn't mean there isn't a reason. You seem to be jumping to conclusions in order to do some victim blaming here.

In any case, even if it weren't attached, that wouldn't excuse the assault. If they were just ordinary sunglasses, and someone snatched them of his face and broke them, the situation would be no different.

...chooses to ignore the rules and seeks to obstruct people from implementing them.


What rules? Have you ever seen a fast food restaurant with a 'no cameras' sign? And anyway, according to the blog post, no one actually asked him to leave before the assault:
while we were standing in line at McDonalds, I was stopped by a person who subsequently stated that he was a McDonalds employee, and he asked about my eyeglass (digital computer vision system, i.e. EyeTap).

...

Since I happened to have it with me, I showed this doctor's letter and the documentation to the purported McDonalds employee who had stopped me in the McDonalds line.

After reviewing the documentation, the purported McDonalds employee accepted me (and my family) as a customer, and left us to place our order.

...

Next my family and I seated ourselves in the restaurant right by the entrance, so we could watch people walking along Avenue Champs Elysees while we ate our meal.

Subsequently another person within McDonalds physically assaulted me, while I was in McDonand's, eating my McDonand's Ranch Wrap that I had just purchased at this McDonald's. He angrily grabbed my eyeglass, and tried to pull it off my head.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:41 PM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Damn it dumbland! I bet you type way faster than me. Shoulda previewed.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:43 PM on July 16, 2012


Maybe I'm just a callous dude but there seems to be some misplaced oversensitivity. Yeah it was rude to rip up his paper, but the guy wasn't hurt. Some places you just can't take pictures. I worked at chain restaurant/adult fun center type place a ways back and no photos were allowed in there. I think even B&N had a rule like that but anymore with iPhones I think it's gone out the window. A rule like that combined with impatience with pushy customers can give you a hair trigger intolerance for people trying to fuck with you.

And come on the guy clearly likes attention. There are a million examples why thinking that doesn't mean I think he's stupid or a bad person.

And Jesus, relax already about the 'first world problem' joke. If I say my problem that is really bothering me is a first world problem I am only disrespecting myself. It is self-deprecating humor. It's saying "I am basically an asshole for being upset about this because my life is so amazingly great compared to most of humanity."

Fetishizing colonialism? WTF?!
posted by TheRedArmy at 11:45 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


The blog post doesn't say -- were his documents in English or in French? I'm guessing English.

He may have anticipated that security staff at the various other sites he visited would be prepared to deal with English documentation. Those particular staff at McDonald's might not have felt that his documents were terribly relevant or important if he hadn't bothered to have them translated into the language of the country he was visiting.

Maybe his doctor could have used a larger font, or written it out all caps.
posted by fredludd at 11:50 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah it was rude to rip up his paper, but the guy wasn't hurt.
He angrily grabbed my eyeglass, and tried to pull it off my head. The eyeglass is permanently attached and does not come off my skull without special tools.
Sounds like he was hurt to me.

Maybe his doctor could have used a larger font, or written it out all caps.

Or maybe he could have not been physically assaulted.
posted by j03 at 11:54 PM on July 16, 2012 [10 favorites]


TheRedArmy: It's not particularly clear how referring to someone else's assault as a "first world problem" could qualify as "self-deprecating humor".
posted by dumbland at 11:55 PM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Let's please have more of the speculation about what someone may have done wrong that caused them to deserve mistreatment at the hands of others. I know I can't get through the day if I can't find something in a victim's behavior to justify their treatment. Don't burn the brussels sprouts, asshole.
posted by wierdo at 11:55 PM on July 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


Recent news has described me as "the father of wearable computing" in the context of various commercially manufactured versions of similar eye glass, such as those made by companies like Google, Olympus, and the like (see below), so as this technology becomes mainstream, McDonald's might need to get used to it.

A little self promotion to go with your Mango McFlurry, good Doctor?
posted by Brocktoon at 11:56 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


sour cream, I don't doubt a person who wears cyborg gear is going to have a difficult and dramatic personality; but after years of wearing a camera over one eye he probably genuinely has a difficult time adjusting to it not being there.

I once had to get by with one contact lens for a week while I had replacements shipped. Toward the end of the week my left eye went blind when I took out my right contact at the end of the day; which scared the living shit out of me and I decided to just go optically au naturel and stay at home until my 1800contacts showed up in the mail.
posted by eurypteris at 11:59 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


["First world problems" is a dumb, tired, derailing snark that needs to die. Let's at least totally kill it in this thread now, please.]
posted by taz at 12:00 AM on July 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


The division in this thread is fascinating. It's the 90s again, and we're doing Mondo 2000 vs. Spy magazine.
posted by TonyRobots at 12:03 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've had the chance to interact with Mann a few times in the past. I have a lot of respect for him and his work. But he's a peculiar guy. He seeks out situations just like these and takes the level of discomfort he causes in others as proof of the validity of his ideas. Maybe that works for some things in some situations, but in others it just makes you a bully.

McDonald's should fess up to whatever they might have done to him. But I don't think he's necessarily just a passive victim here. Not active either. Just HIGHLY receptive and very prepared to make it a story.
posted by mariokrat at 12:06 AM on July 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


If someone pointed a camera at my children and captured a movie of them without my permission, I'd break their camera.

If I were Dr Mann, I'd be spending less time speculating about what MacDonald's (and, by extension, anyone else who finds his permanently-recording-prosthetic weird, creepy and intrusive) have to get used to, and more time figuring out how to take those damn things off.
posted by falcon at 12:13 AM on July 17, 2012


If someone pointed a camera at my children and captured a movie of them without my permission, I'd break their camera.

Just to be clear, you are saying that were someone to perform an act which is entirely legal (at least, within the United States, and assuming this is in public), that you would assault them?
posted by CrystalDave at 12:17 AM on July 17, 2012 [17 favorites]


Unless I've totally missed something, he doesn't provide any proof that an actual Mcdonald's employee assaulted him, does he? He says someone in a Mcdonald's uniform is standing there while he has his confrontation, but is it clear that the guy who tried to grab the apparatus and the guy who destroyed his letter weren't just patrons who didn't like the look of him? Just because one is wearing a name tag and turns it around so you can't identify him by name doesn't mean he works there.
posted by catch as catch can at 12:18 AM on July 17, 2012


> Unless I've totally missed something, he doesn't provide any proof that an actual Mcdonald's employee assaulted him, does he? He says someone in a Mcdonald's uniform is standing there while he has his confrontation, but is it clear that the guy who tried to grab the apparatus and the guy who destroyed his letter weren't just patrons who didn't like the look of him? Just because one is wearing a name tag and turns it around so you can't identify him by name doesn't mean he works there.
posted by catch as catch can at 5:18 PM on July 17 [+] [!]

Well, one of his purported assailants is wearing a shirt with the arches logo. But keep bending backwards to call Dr Mann a liar and justify his assault in a McDonalds in Paris. Because, of course, if you wear eyecameras, visit Paris, and decide to eat at McDo, YOU DESERVE WHATEVER YOU GET.
posted by kandinski at 12:22 AM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]



Agreed. I'm kinda baffled by the people here going, Oh, he's an attention-seeker, he likes to rile people up, so...people have the right to assault him? What?


There's a deeply ingrained need in the American psyche to blame the victim if somebody falls foul of anybody in a position of authority, even if it is only afternoon shift manager at a MickeyD's.

Especially when the victim in question is a bit ...strange.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:44 AM on July 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


There's a deeply ingrained need in the American psyche to blame the victim if somebody falls foul of anybody in a position of authority, even if it is only afternoon shift manager at a MickeyD's.

Especially when the victim in question is a bit ...strange.


Yes, I forgot that in my tirade. Dr Mann was guilty of being a big nerd.
posted by kandinski at 12:48 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


That need isnt deeply ingrained in the American psyche, i can attest to that (being American and all) -- it is deeply ingrained in some people's psyches, however. Being intentionally different is seen by some as an affront, i suppose.
posted by davejay at 12:50 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unless I've totally missed something, he doesn't provide any proof that an actual Mcdonald's employee assaulted him, does he?

Whatever evidence could he provide?! Footage? No, wait, THEY DON'T ALLOW CAMERAS. Potential witnesses helpfully numbered One and Two? Destroyed equipment?

Of course, we DO have pictures, because they were taken in the process of the attempt to rip the machine attached to his skull off his head. Which leads me to strongly suspect that the rule against cameras might actually be to hide how they physically threaten customers ointo complying with arbitrary rules.
posted by JHarris at 12:53 AM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm not actually arguing in any way that his assault was justifiable, but thanks for putting words in my mouth. He calls the uniformed worker a perpetrator, but doesn't seem to indicate what he did apart from standing there while the other two confronted him. I just can't see clear evidence that he was assaulted by Mcdonald's employees, is all. I'm not arguing it didn't take place, or that it was justified, or that Dr. Mann is being a drama queen.
posted by catch as catch can at 12:56 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


In any case, even if it weren't attached, that wouldn't excuse the assault.

Which is precisely why I prefaced the rest of my comments with this one:

"Obviously, the assault is completely indefensible."
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:59 AM on July 17, 2012


I think there is something else deeply ingrained in the Metafilter psyche to get as outraged as possible accuse people of saying things when they have specifically said the exact opposite.
posted by Snyder at 1:03 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just to be clear, you are saying that were someone to perform an act which is entirely legal (at least, within the United States, and assuming this is in public), that you would assault them?

No. I'd break their camera. I'd be happy to pay damages, but I would not permit them to have an image of my child without my permission.

I realise there is a view that says that everything that is not illegal is permissible. There are times when I can conform to that view. There are times when I can't. One of those times is when I have to prevent the possibility that pedophiles will take images of my children, then post them on websites for the sexual gratification of their interest group. I apologise if you feel differently - I do not seek to tell you what you should do to protect your children.

(There is a fascinating, and possibly more interesting, other discussion we could have about the identification with one's possessions as extensions of oneself as the foundation and greatest delusion of American consumer society, btw.)
posted by falcon at 1:05 AM on July 17, 2012


I don't have an opinion about Dr. Mann's behavior, but I will comment on the apparently puzzling behavior of the goons. The McDonalds franchise is a favored target of anarchists and other activists (for example, 1, 2, 3, and an old Salon article: Falling Arches), and my guess is that the no-photography thing would be related to that, probably in an effort to keep would-be bombers, et al from documenting the layout to identify and share vulnerabilities.

The weird photo glasses and possible "suspicious" behavior might have triggered some panic, and overzealousness or possible authority syndrome took care of the rest. So,clearly, not at all a great reaction – but perhaps not as entirely opaque as it first seems.
posted by taz at 1:05 AM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


I bet they thought he was some kinda CIA superspy or something and it was plain old anti-Americanism.

Anti-Americanism? Oh fer Chrissakes. This is a McDonald's. In a location which ensures that a large part of its customers will actually be American.

Everybody here seems to be implying that the confrontation (the pictures stop short of proving any actual assault) was actually related to Mann's unusual eyewear. I rather imagine that there may have been some other ridiculously trivial issue, which was then compounded by the language gap. This kind of thing happens to tourists everywhere, even without techno-glasses.

As for the scepticism with which Mann is being received here, it may have something to do with the fact that he is so detailed about everything up to the actual clash and what happened afterwards. Then his account becomes sketchy at best. In July, you can hardly step into the Champs-Elysées without bumping into a policeman. If he was assaulted by anybody, let alone McD's staff, the normal thing would have been to go to a policeman on the spot, then report the incident at the closest Commissariat. Period.
posted by Skeptic at 1:11 AM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


No offense, Falcon, but that must be one of the daftest things I ever heard. If you forcefully take my camera from me and destroy it, that's straight-up assault and has nothing to do with some pseudophilosphical mush about conflation of self and possessions. In the US or the UK.
posted by ominous_paws at 1:13 AM on July 17, 2012 [19 favorites]



falcon: smash any bicycles your children ride, they might fall and get hurt. Also, throw all the food they might eat away, it might be contaminated with arsenic. Also, don't let them breathe the air, it's full of pollution and could cause them harm. Also, send a rocket to destroy the sun, it might give them skin cancer. Also tackle and restrain little old ladies who try to pinch your children's cheeks, they're probably trying to molest them.

Is that an unhealthy, unreasonable attitude? It's equally unhealthy to assume every person on the street with a camera is a sexual predator.
posted by j03 at 1:19 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


No offense, ominous_paws, but your inability to tell the difference between you getting injured and your camera getting damaged is irrelevant, but your attempt to attach moral judgement to the destruction of your camera by equating it to personal injury is equally daft.

The only point I'm making is that pointing cameras at people is not a morally neutral act, and one which is likely to provoke a strong reaction (whether you agree with that reaction or not).

It is a little disingenuous to do so and then tell them what they need to start getting used to.
posted by falcon at 1:25 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I look forward with great anticipation to reading the news accounts of falcon's upcoming altercation with Sergey Brin.

I guess, but am not certain, that falcon will come out on the losing end, as well he should. I imagine Mr. Brin's bodyguards will make quick work of his Internet bravado.
posted by syzygy at 1:27 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's equally unhealthy to assume every person on the street with a camera is a sexual predator.

An argument which, I assume, would be much more convincing if my children's pictures had not, in fact, been posted on the internet. Perhaps you are not aware of how common it is. Meanwhile, I don't accept your slippery slope fallacy.
posted by falcon at 1:28 AM on July 17, 2012


falcon: your inability to tell the difference between you getting injured and your camera getting damaged is irrelevant

It would be impossible for you to destroy my camera without causing some degree of bodily harm to me. It's firmly strapped to my body, and there's simply no way you could take it from me without a scuffle. At which point, you'd be guilty of assaulting my person, and I'd be well within my rights to defend myself.

Keyboard warriors might wish to consult with an attorney before they go about destroying other peoples' cameras:
An individual is privileged to use reasonable force to prevent a tort against her real or personal property.
posted by syzygy at 1:35 AM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, we have to take into consideration how widespread and devious paedophile networks are and that scientifically speaking genetically they have more in common with crabs than real people.

No offense, ominous_paws, but your inability to tell the difference between you getting injured and your camera getting damaged is irrelevant, but your attempt to attach moral judgement to the destruction of your camera by equating it to personal injury is equally daft.

It's not daft; it's the law. Tearing somebody's camera away from them and breaking it is assault, and in any case it's hardly likely that you could do so without having to use physical force against them.

The only point I'm making is that pointing cameras at people is not a morally neutral act, and one which is likely to provoke a strong reaction (whether you agree with that reaction or not).

That's just silly.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:39 AM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


MartinWisse: That's just silly. To be clear. Are you trivialising candid photography pedophilia, as part of an argument that a father's attempt to protect his children from it is unjustified? Have I misjudged just how weird this thread is?
posted by falcon at 2:05 AM on July 17, 2012


"The only point I'm making is that pointing cameras at people is not a morally neutral act, and one which is likely to provoke a strong reaction (whether you agree with that reaction or not). "

That's just silly.


I don't think it's silly at all. In fact I would find it rather odd if an absolute stranger walked up to any person, snapped a picture, and that person was just, "whatevs, I have absolutely no opinion about what just happened." If that person lacked a strong reaction - not necessarily grabbing the camera and throwing it to the ground, but an some reaction - I'd worry about that person's mental health and attachment to reality.

An issue with photos nowadays is that they may end up anywhere. Publishing recognizable likenesses of people is a tricky business - even photographing them in a public place doesn't necessarily give you the right to publish the image.

And that's part of the problem. When someone took a photo of you years ago, you pretty much knew it was or was not going to be published - they were with a paper/magazine/whatever or they weren't. If they weren't then you might have your image taken but you could be reasonably sure it would not be distributed, as the average person did not have the means.

Now the average person does have the means which is why most sane people are wary of complete strangers taking their photo for no discernible reason.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 2:15 AM on July 17, 2012


Is that what you said in the sentence I'm quoting?

No.

(I do question how likely it is that somebody photographing children in public is a nasty paedophile when if they want pictures of kids to lust over, there are always the kids clothing catalogues...)
posted by MartinWisse at 2:17 AM on July 17, 2012


Yep, that's exactly what everyone is doing here. We're trivialising paedophilia. Probably the best thing to do is come and take our laptops and smash them.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:18 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you're in a public place, you're subject to being recorded, photographed, etc. If your response to that fact is to commit assault, that is batshit crazy and you should rethink your position before you land yourself some jail time.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:21 AM on July 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


Falcon, there is just no way that anyone is going to take seriously this fantasy you've come up with where you walk around consensually smashing people's iPhones and casually exchanging insurance information.

This is just not a thing that happens.
posted by Winnemac at 2:23 AM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


In fact I would find it rather odd if an absolute stranger walked up to any person, snapped a picture, and that person was just, "whatevs, I have absolutely no opinion about what just happened."

A bit different though from just snapping pictures in the street, which is the context in which this sidethread was introduced. But I expect that if somebody takes an picture that's explicitely of you, they would have the grace to ask permission first, even when not perhaps legally necessary.

But how often does it happen anyway that somebody is explicitely taking pictures of somebody without their permission (exluding paparazzi and the like), rather than taking pictures that randomly happen to include somebody?

Because what Steve Mann does is more the latter than the former, just recording what he happens to see during his daily life, not filming a specific subject.

Now the average person does have the means which is why most sane people are wary of complete strangers taking their photo for no discernible reason.

How would it hurt you though, other than through some convaluted scenario involving identity theft that can be brought about much easier?
posted by MartinWisse at 2:25 AM on July 17, 2012


Taking photos in a public place is a right. Do we really need to argue for why this is so?

if an absolute stranger walked up to any person, snapped a picture

Yeah, at some point you have a case for harassment. Then, it's harassment, which we can all agree is bad. It's not 'taking a photo.' Not all rectangles are squares.

Getting extremely worked up about photos of yourself getting taken seems a little naive when you consider how often you're photographed in public (store security cameras...if you live in the UK, just on the street).

Yeah, if someone uses pictures of your kids to get off, that's messed up. But on the bright side, that's not actually going to affect your kids in any real way. I'd also tend to think that chances of that happening are really slim. It's more likely that when they get a little older they send naked pictures of themselves to other kids - so if you want to put energy into something you actually have control over, have at it.
posted by victory_laser at 2:31 AM on July 17, 2012


Also, people taking photos in public space are capturing what everyone could already see anyway. As someone in that reddit thread said (paraphrasing) - "I have a photographic memory. So what are you going to do now, scoop up my brain and tear it up?"
posted by victory_laser at 2:35 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Maybe we can lay off the pedophile angle since it has nothing to do with the actual post and just seems like an easy prompt for lots of angry shouting? ]
posted by taz at 2:39 AM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


OK - this derailed. Picking a fight over the principle that not everything that is legal should be permissible, in a place where people who think that everything that is legal is permissible come to chat about it, was probably not a good idea.

My sons privacy was violated, in almost the worst possible way, and I have to try and do something about it. The remedies at my disposal are limited, to say the least. If you want to ridicule and trivialise the issue, and construct slippery slope argument after slippery slope argument, I can't stop you.

It is precisely because, if you're in a public place, you're subject to being recorded and photographed, that we need voluntary limits - norms and taboos, if you like. Since it is matter of objective fact that those public places are inhabited by predators, some of us have to choose whether to enter them and subject the vulnerable to the hazards, or effectively to be excluded from them.

Is the freedom to photograph my children whenever you want so important to you that you would deny public spaces to me? Is the act of giving implied permission to pedophiles by asserting your right to photograph my children morally neutral? Why would you not want to help families avoid exclusion, by agreeing to certain voluntary limits to your freedom not prescribed by law?

Anyway, my only point really was that the Good Doctor lives in a world where Bad Things happen, especially around the apparatus of image recording. His expectation that his behaviour is something I will have to get used to is as misplaced as your belief that your inability to distinguish between a child and a bowl of petunias shouldn't provoke strong reactions to your choice of subjects.
posted by falcon at 2:45 AM on July 17, 2012


After looking through this Brazilian photographer's flickr stream, I'm prompted to ask: at what point in time did photography of people in public places become such a contested issue? Those Brazilians seem to be reasonably comfortable with Gustavo Gomes and his camera. Why is it different elsewhere?

Does it have to do with wealth? Density of population? Public health and safety campaigns?
posted by quosimosaur at 2:50 AM on July 17, 2012


[Maybe we can lay off the pedophile angle since it has nothing to do with the actual post and just seems like an easy prompt for lots of angry shouting? ]

Actually, it has quite a lot to do with the actual post. Several countries have stringent laws against publishing recognizable likenesses of children for that very reason, and it's quite conceivable that, if there's a "no pictures" policy in place at McD, it also has to do with this. Call it an over-reaction if you like, but this is a very real concern for many.

Mind you, as I've commented before, we can't be sure that the camera was actually the source of the incident. Also, there may be another reason why McDonald's staff was nervous about video in their premises: just a few days earlier, there had been a minor local scandal when a video was posted on YouTube showing unsanitary conditions in the premises of a competitor in Paris (rodents were involved).
posted by Skeptic at 2:50 AM on July 17, 2012


Taking photos in a public place is a right. Do we really need to argue for why this is so?

Well, that is quite a good idea. Why do you believe it is a right? Is it OK in every circumstance?

I'm quite an avid photographer, but I'm also very reluctant to take pictures of people without their express knowledge and approval, even when they are in a public place. I find it intrusive and rude.
posted by Skeptic at 3:00 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


My sons privacy was violated, in almost the worst possible way

...by being photographed in public? Do you even know what privacy means?
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:00 AM on July 17, 2012


Pope Guilty: by being photographed in public? Do you even know what privacy means?

No, by being photographed in swim suits in a public place, and having those images posted on a website maintained by pedophiles who's "thing" is young boys in swim suits. I'm pretty clear what privacy means, but am getting tired of plumbing the depths of the ignorance of others who aren't prepared to let that ignorance get in the way of an opinion or two - shall we leave it, now?
posted by falcon at 3:09 AM on July 17, 2012


Bohemia Mountain: If things are even close to how they are presented, I'm unsure how Dr. Mann is not a McMillionaire VERY soon. IANYL, IANYCL (I Am Not Your Cyborg Lawyer). YFRMV ( Your Frame Rate May Vary).

He won't be, and that's because TINTUSA (This Is Not The USA). When a bona fide crime is committed, it tends to be dealt with in criminal courts over here...
posted by Dysk at 3:09 AM on July 17, 2012


Do you even know what privacy means?

Do we? It's a complicated subject, come to think of it, especially when the Internet and opportunities for large-scale data aggregation come into play. Take the "Girls Around Me" scandal, for example: the women involved may well feel that their privacy was breached, even though they had themselves (unwisely) shared all the information involved.

Likewise, the combination of wide CCTV coverage of public spaces, as in the UK, and rapidly improving face-recognition technology is the stuff of dystopian nightmares.
posted by Skeptic at 3:11 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, by being photographed in swim suits in a public place, and having those images posted on a website maintained by pedophiles who's "thing" is young boys in swim suits.

If you'd mentioned the swimsuits at the first, you wouldn't have come off as a lunatic looking for an excuse to assault people and destroy their possessions.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:12 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Folks - it was not my intention to make pedophilia the subject of the thread, and it's not a subject I'm particularly comfortable about being forced to explain. I'd just as soon apologise for unwisely
using personal experience to illustrate a point, and equally just as soon prefer not to derail the thread with it any more. Thanks.
posted by falcon at 3:13 AM on July 17, 2012


Did y'all actually make the logical leap in a few comments from "Mann was assaulted while having eating with his family" = "but it was justified because REASONS pedophiles" = "also it wasn't actually assault"? Because that is breathtaking sophistry and derailing, especially the part where you don't actually suggest that Mann is inherently suspicious and maybe a pedophile for filming public stuff, you just leave those ideas lying there separately but expectantly on the carpet, where if someone else trips on it it's their own fault. Wow.

There's a long and non-Crazy Crackpot Pedophile history of sousveillance that is relevant to this discussion and not limited to the personal vicinity of Mann, which should definitely be incentive to increase your paranoia level, in general, because you never know in public. Private eyes are watching you. They see your every move!

Also the "it wasn't assault, it was property whatever" is frankly bullshit anyway if the property in this case is a attached to a guy's face and "can only be removed with special tools." If you hypothetically yank off what you think are his weird eyeglasses and accidentally yank off a chunk of his scalp too, you are not off the hook for not expecting that.
posted by nicebookrack at 3:16 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the context of the thread, bringing up pedophiles made no goddamned sense, because what Mann does isn't choosing pictures to take; he's literally recording everything he sees. Bringing up a person who is deliberately choosing and framing shots is irrelevant, and in this context it looks like you saw something that could be tenuously connected to something you feel strongly about (and rightly so) and decided to jump the relevance gap and have a rant about it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:17 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you'd mentioned the swimsuits at the first, you wouldn't have come off as a lunatic looking for an excuse to assault people and destroy their possessions.

Yes, well, welcome to the world in which the truth is revealed incrementally, and therefore in which a certain measure of tolerance and curiosity goes a long way.
posted by falcon at 3:17 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm sorry for not giving the benefit of the doubt to somebody posting eagerly about how excited they are to smash peoples' possessions without explaining properly why. I should've assumed you had a good reason for committing assault, theft, and property destruction despite the total lack of evidence for the existence of said reason at the time.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:20 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Agh, for wanting to commit, rather.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:22 AM on July 17, 2012


In the context of the thread, bringing up pedophiles made no goddamned sense, because what Mann does isn't choosing pictures to take; he's literally recording everything he sees

Oh, great. Well that's a comfort. Yes, I can understand how that should condition my concern about the implied consent we give to be recorded.
posted by falcon at 3:22 AM on July 17, 2012


Unless the weird guy with a camera sandwiched to his face desires tolerance or curiosity on his behalf?
posted by nicebookrack at 3:23 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unless the weird guy with a camera sandwiched to his face desires tolerance or curiosity on his behalf?

A possibility that is rather contradicted by his view that it is something "I will have to get used to", don't you think?
posted by falcon at 3:25 AM on July 17, 2012


Calling people who disagree with you "autistic" is not the brightest rhetorical strategy I've ever come across.
posted by Wolof at 3:25 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nor the least offensive, both to the poster in question, and to people with autism...
posted by Dysk at 3:29 AM on July 17, 2012


You ever notice how threads tend to go more and more sideways as the night winds on?
posted by victory_laser at 3:30 AM on July 17, 2012


Yes, well, welcome to the world in which the truth is revealed incrementally, and therefore in which a certain measure of tolerance and curiosity goes a long way.

"and it was that measure of tolerance and curiosity that led me to smash his photography equipment as my first step, m'lud."
posted by jaduncan at 3:31 AM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


A possibility that is rather contradicted by his view that it is something "I will have to get used to", don't you think?

Not in the least if Mann perfects his intended usage of his technology to help vision-impaired people. I will 100% prioritize a blinded person's desire to see again over my desire to not be seen.

Also, how often do you demand the limitation of government and corporate surveillance (not sousveillance)? That's something I think we can both agree is more worrisome and pervasive than this kind of recording.
posted by nicebookrack at 3:33 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


[Falcon, you are way out of bounds; totally derailing this thread, implying that posters here are pedophiles and using autistic as an insult (deleted). You need to step off right now. Officially. ]
posted by taz at 3:37 AM on July 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


I have no opinion about the incident itself, however the majority of private companies do indeed prohibit any and all non-approved photography on their property, and in the vast majority of countries this is their legal right. It's really not unusual. How much they choose to enforce it is another question, but I think you'd find most private property you go to - definitely including McDonalds restaurants - will have a policy in place like this.
posted by smoke at 3:42 AM on July 17, 2012


Also, how often do you demand the limitation of government and corporate surveillance (not sousveillance)? That's something I think we can both agree is more worrisome and pervasive than this kind of recording.

Actually, all the time. It is perhaps unfortunate from the perspective of this thread that I happen to live in the most highly surveillanced (sp?) society in the world in addition to having experienced the misuse of the freedom to photograph anything. It makes us rather sensitive to the proliferation of surveillance devices.

Your point about tolerance is well made and I completely understand the potential medical application of this technology. What has provoked me is the antagonistic way the guy has conducted himself, in the context of recognised issues and sensitivities that surround the technology. I certainly think there are better ways of trialing the technology than adopting this kind of persona.
posted by falcon at 3:46 AM on July 17, 2012


Also, damn, that wikipedia article is baaaa-aaad, and if Steve himself didn't play a large part in writing it, I'll eat my hat, or at very least get a computer attached to my mouth to eat it.
posted by smoke at 3:46 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


smoke, are those polices allowed to be defensive (barring cameras access, asking filming person to leave) or aggressive (confiscating or destroying equipment, physically confronting the filming person)?
posted by nicebookrack at 3:48 AM on July 17, 2012


The photographer's bill of rights [pdf].

This applies to the US. I realize there are no sources, but it's coming from a lawyer. I'm pretty sure it's legit. If you live somewhere where it's not almost 4 am you can look into it more.

smoke makes a good point - McDonalds has a right to prohibit photography on their property. In the future, will medical sight devices be treated as seeing eye dogs are today, with a sign on the door saying "No dogs unless you really need them under the law / No photography unless you really need it" ?
posted by victory_laser at 3:48 AM on July 17, 2012


I have no opinion about the incident itself, however the majority of private companies do indeed prohibit any and all non-approved photography on their property, and in the vast majority of countries this is their legal right. It's really not unusual. How much they choose to enforce it is another question, but I think you'd find most private property you go to - definitely including McDonalds restaurants - will have a policy in place like this.

He had a doctor's letter. Preventing use of perscribed medical devices/things that use cameras for sight is an *entirely* different kettle of fish. See the Americans with Disabilities Act (USA), Disability Discrimination Act (UK), Equalities Act (UK).

Related example: "No dogs except guide dogs." The exclusion prevents really quite expensive legal cases.
posted by jaduncan at 3:48 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


He did indeed have a doctor's letter (He doesn't say what it says, and it seems the eye is not for a medical need, but that is by-the-by). I was merely addressing the disbelief addressed upthread that McDonalds would/could prohibit photography, and that such a thing is highly unusual. In fact they can, and such prohibitions are - in my experience both as hobby photographer, PR person who often gets the requests both formal and informal from puzzled site managers, and someone who has worked for many companies that prohibit photography - in very common.
posted by smoke at 3:53 AM on July 17, 2012


If you don't like being photographed in public spaces in an era of ubiquitous small electronic cameras...consider a burqa.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:54 AM on July 17, 2012


[A couple of comments deleted. Sorry, but this thread is absolutely no longer about falcon.]
posted by taz at 3:56 AM on July 17, 2012


He doesn't say what it says, and it seems the eye is not for a medical need

Just as a heads up, he has a sight issue that is corrected by the eye unit.
posted by jaduncan at 3:59 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah thanks for clearing that up.
posted by smoke at 4:01 AM on July 17, 2012


In fact, when people start commonly using sight correcting glasses that are based around cameras (big advantages there: zoom, auto focus, AR) I can see the following things:

a) photography limitations will be almost impossible to enforce - one can always hire a partially sighted person to take photos, and;
b) people are going to start to be given exam glasses, in the same way that people are now required to use issued caluclators in maths exams to avoid storage of formulae etc.
posted by jaduncan at 4:03 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge: consider a burqa

Or the ever handy Burqini, for those times when you want to visit a public swimming facility.

Back to the topic at hand - Mann may be a firebrand, and it would be interesting to have the whole story (i.e. was he asked to leave and refused to do so?).

As a hobbyist photographer who sometimes enjoys "street photography", the only thing that causes me any concern with the right to make photographs freely in public is facial recognition technology. Without facial recognition technology, everyone in my candid photographs is either practically anonymous or well-enough-known that they can have no reasonable expectation of anonymity.

Facial recognition technology changes that. The photo I took of an anonymous couple out shopping could easily turn into evidence in a divorce case in the near future, as the wife of the photographed man uses facial recognition search to find all photographs of her husband online, including the one where he's out buying gifts for (and with) his girlfriend when he said he was going to be at church.

The possibilities are a little unsettling, to say the least.
posted by syzygy at 4:05 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, I jaduncan, I complete agree, and it's totally just a matter of time. All very interesting. Indeed, I suspect it will be a generational change, in addition to a technological one.

I would imagine for assistive, recording devices of any type, ISO standards and the like will go a long way towards resolving the tensions, and it end up with a few major manufacturers producing the vast majority of devices - as we have with hearing aids no, for example (sidenote: why no recording hearing aids? It would be trivially easy and some of them are definitely large enough to incorporate the tech without having to go larger. May there are and I just don't know about it).
posted by smoke at 4:09 AM on July 17, 2012


Nobody picked up on that the permanent recording is only triggered by damage to the device? He's not constantly videoing everything - if no damage was done, there would have been no pictures or record.

The 'stop hitting yourself' vibe I got from that bit was a little weird, but it was an interesting workaround to the 'video in public' question.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:11 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd imagine he's just got a constant buffer. Device turns off, buffer isn't overwritten. It's not triggered as such, it's just that the data is normally replaced.
posted by jaduncan at 4:12 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah syzygy I've thought about that before, and I'd wager this will happen for all of us eventually.

Mann's thoughts about how people will monitor and augment each other's vision as a way of communicating, or a game, is pretty interesting and I'm sure we'll see this new form of social interaction play out as time goes on. Imagine a long distance couple getting to see what their partner sees as they go about their day, as a way to keep in touch. Or, chatroulette in-real-life. Or, 100's of other possibilities which would seem totally bizarre to us now. This evolution of norms has a precedent in texting, facebook, etc. and once the tech + pragmatic motives which further its ubiquity, we'll really see these sort of interactions come into fruition.
posted by victory_laser at 4:15 AM on July 17, 2012


In Germany, it's my understanding (from talking to German photographers), that it's forbidden to post identifiable photos of unknowing strangers, if said strangers were the primary subject of the photograph.

But as cameras grow in resolution (see the Nikon D800, a full frame DSLR with a 36 megapixel sensor), an 'innocent' photograph of, for instance, a building or statue, may incidentally capture the faces of dozens of passers-by with enough resolution for a facial recognition search to identify them.

For example, I recently took a wide angle picture of a 4 story building with my 16MP camera. The building is obviously the main subject of the full photograph. When I took the photograph, I had no idea that there were any people in it. But there were, and they happened to be interesting, and with 16 megapixels, I was able to crop a picture of a 4 story building down to a square containing the 2 interesting-looking people, clearly identifiable if you knew them. Clearly identifiable by today's facial recognition techologies, as well, I'd venture.

I have no idea what the best way to address these changing realities is.
posted by syzygy at 4:19 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would imagine for assistive, recording devices of any type, ISO standards and the like will go a long way towards resolving the tensions, and it end up with a few major manufacturers producing the vast majority of devices.

That's hard to fix if we assume the willingness to be underhand; once there's the processing power to do stuff like autofocus, there's the power to root it and have it lie about configurations. You can't really trust a device that's in the hands of the adversary (and that's even ignoring that they could just replace the innards).

(sidenote: why no recording hearing aids? It would be trivially easy and some of them are definitely large enough to incorporate the tech without having to go larger. May there are and I just don't know about it).

Sounds like a business plan.
posted by jaduncan at 4:20 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


In addition to the burqa, there's also the 'camera-zapper' idea, where a laser or bright light is used to temporarily 'disable' a digital camera's sensor. Seems I've read about a way to automate this using existing technology to detect digital camera sensors in real-time and automatically blind them.

I can imagine a future version of Mann's glasses with a camera on one side and a zapper on the the other :-)
posted by syzygy at 4:34 AM on July 17, 2012


That's hard to fix if we assume the willingness to be underhand

Very true, but again, I would point to hearing aids and other devices. My knowledge is far from comprehensive but modding seems to be very limited - miniaturisation renders user-based hacks much more difficult and expensive, so whilst it may certainly be possible, I don't know if I would argue it would be widespread.

I mean, it's hard enough to root a frigging iphone; doing it to something that will break if you open it without the right tools, costs 3-6 times as much, and has (at least, for now), but a soupcon of the processing power and that itself is also bepspoke and customised (i.e. few common, OEM parts/chips etc), would be quite challenging, I think.
posted by smoke at 4:38 AM on July 17, 2012


France

I am a little shocked that someone finds it more likely that the mafia is running a criminal front out of some of the most expensive real estate in Europe, than that a visitor was treated badly by Parisian service employees.


Everyone knows France is a lawless country (which happened to influence most continental legal systems) and that Parisian employees regularly assault customers (and tourists love it thus making Paris the most-visited city globally). Yes, let's laugh at the French.
posted by ersatz at 4:49 AM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Taken was a documentary.
posted by dumbland at 5:03 AM on July 17, 2012


You'd be surprised.

"CHDK is a firmware enhancement that operates on a number of Canon Cameras. CHDK gets loaded into your camera's memory upon bootup (either manually or automatically). It provides additional functionality beyond that currently provided by the native camera firmware.
CHDK is not a permanent firmware upgrade: you decide how it is loaded (manually or automatically) and you can always easily remove it."

That's custom code replacing the OS at boot time. It's not a problem at all to have it lie wholesale on the display configuration screen.
posted by jaduncan at 5:12 AM on July 17, 2012


Suppose McD's customers were irrationally spooked by Dr. Mann's stuff and complained. The McD management comes out and asks him to leave. He acts outraged, claims he has documentation which gives him the right to be there, refuses to go. Management wants him out, doesn't want to have to wait for the police to show up while their customers panic, attempt to physically escort him from the premises. In the ensuing scuffle his hardware gets bumped around, possibly damaged. Similarly his documents might become ripped, especially if he was waving them in someones face. Not hard to see how some paper could rip and some fragile hardware could be damaged, especially if they were being carried by an unwelcome guest who refused to leave and had to be not-so-gingerly removed from the building.

Please at least pretend you read the site and some of the comments before yours. There's a clear picture of a McD's employee sitting calmly and tearing up his papers.

As others mentioned above, the only scenario that should cause physical altercations to occur is for the private business to call the police, who would deal with it however they see fit. Under absolutely no circumstances is it acceptable for McD's employees to touch a customer, much less rough them up.
posted by odinsdream at 5:39 AM on July 17, 2012


Likewise, the combination of wide CCTV coverage of public spaces, as in the UK, and rapidly improving face-recognition technology is the stuff of dystopian nightmares.
Can we not do this again? The UK has become some kind of totemic "surveillance state" because of some very shoddy research ten years ago. The UK doesn't have one camera for every 14 people, nor millions and millions of cameras watching public places. Like the US, most CCTV is owned by private companies filming private areas, and has nothing to do with the state. Like the US, cities have and run their own systems, which numbers in the hundreds of low thousands, depending on the size of the city. I know that now the old research has been shown to be grossly flawed people are keen on making up new numbers which "prove" the UK really is the surveillance state we think it is, but we only think of it that way because of the shoddy research.

In short, if you "know" the UK has lots of CCTV cameras compared to other countries, you're likely not very well informed about CCTV.
posted by Jehan at 5:52 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Jehan: I think we should do this again. The fact that the UK no longer has lots of CCTV cameras compared to other countries - i.e. that other countries are getting as bad as the UK - is of no comfort.

One of the issues this thread raises is the problem of ubiquitous digital recording devices. The fact is that images obtained from such devices can be processed automatically. The fact is that images are routinely mis-used, at a scale that was inconceivable 20 years ago. The fact is that there is very little we can do about it.

One of the things we can do is consider voluntary cultural norms and practices. Isn't that a reasonable thing to discuss?
posted by falcon at 6:07 AM on July 17, 2012


f things are even close to how they are presented, I'm unsure how Dr. Mann is not a McMillionaire VERY soon.

What are the damages? I see property damage but no significant long-term injuries. Settle for 100K.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:07 AM on July 17, 2012


I think we should do this again. The fact that the UK no longer has lots of CCTV cameras compared to other countries - i.e. that other countries are getting as bad as the UK - is of no comfort.
Oh, I'm not saying it is any comfort whatsoever, but rather that folk like to talk about CCTV, but show their ignorance as soon as they open their mouth. The total number of CCTV cameras owned by local authorities in the UK is about 60,000, which includes those inside buildings. If my local authority is anything to go by, only about half record the streets while the others are inside council buildings.* But some local authorities have none whatsoever, such as South Holland with a population of 90,000 people. Others have very small amounts. The idea that this amounts to "wide CCTV coverage of public spaces, as in the UK" is wholly wrong. It's really an idea that needs to die, and people can then start form scratch to understand where CCTV is, who owns it, and what it is doing. For example, Chicago and New York have hundreds of publicly owned CCTV cameras recording the street, and supposedly the New York subway has about 4,200 cameras alone.

*Which would make the number of public CCTV cameras run at a rate of about 1 for every 2,000. Nowhere near to the 1 for every 14 which still gets repeated by idiots.
posted by Jehan at 6:37 AM on July 17, 2012


Have any of you been in a McDonald's lately? This guy is far less threatening and normal looking then most of the skeezeballs that frequent those places...even in France, I would presume.
posted by Kokopuff at 6:40 AM on July 17, 2012


The total number of CCTV cameras owned by local authorities in the UK is about 60,000, which includes those inside buildings
What, in your view, is the significance of only counting local authority CCTV cameras? Cheshire police physically counted 12,000+ public and private devices in that county alone. Extrapolating that and adding in the road network yielded 1.8m cameras, one camera for every 32 citizens. Is this the study you say was flawed (I'm interested)?

One significance is that the authorities are only considering regulation for public authority cameras. But that means only a small fraction will be covered - only 500 of the 12,000 in Cheshire, or about 5%. 95% would be unregulated, and in the hands of outfits like G4S.

Feels like a pretty ubiquitous system, especially considering that both the cameras and the population are concentrated in urban areas, so coverage is in practice higher than it sounds.

And not one I recall ever asking for, or having my opinion on how it should be regulated or controlled solicited.

(ref)
posted by falcon at 7:08 AM on July 17, 2012


Seems to be something that McDonalds DOES NOT LIKE.
posted by crazy_yeti at 7:13 AM on July 17, 2012


For those who are interested, the third episode of the Black Mirror TV series, "The Entire History of You", deals with this exact near future science fiction premise.
posted by quosimosaur at 7:20 AM on July 17, 2012


What, in your view, is the significance of only counting local authority CCTV cameras? Cheshire police physically counted 12,000+ public and private devices in that county alone. Extrapolating that and adding in the road network yielded 1.8m cameras, one camera for every 32 citizens.
Private cameras are as ubiquitous in the UK as they are in many other countries, and so are irrelevant for the purposes of comparison. I expect to be recorded as much if I walk into a local Tesco as I would in a Fred Meyer or Walmart. Further, they often do not (and should not) record public spaces, but rather the private land and buildings owned by the operators. Also, private companies are not state actors, making their installation of CCTV unreflective of the state. But the main reason not to count them is that they vastly outnumber public CCTV, and so a statistic like "1 for every 32 citizens" would still be much the same without public CCTV, and very misleading on the issue of state surveillance.

I feel we're derailing now, however, so I'm happy to keep talking through MeMail.

posted by Jehan at 7:20 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


But I don't think he's necessarily just a passive victim here. Not active either.

I don't accept this philosophy that, if Mann was "being provocative" or an attention whore or "highly receptive" or whatever, that in any way invalidates or changes the story. Rosa Parks was intentionally provocative and "highly receptive" and "ready to make it a story." Does that invalidate the civil rights movement?
posted by muddgirl at 7:27 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I saw an assailant trying to tear off what at first blush appeared to be a prosthesis for a person with impaired vision, thereby causing the prosthesis wearer great pain, it would take me about 3 seconds to default to hitting the assailant in the face repeatedly with the heaviest object within my reach.

I'm equal parts shocked and disgusted that that didn't happen to the nametag-toting asshole here.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:30 PM on July 16 [2 favorites +] [!]


With the greatest of respect Inspector Gadget, I must submit that you perhaps have something of a vested interest in this particular episode.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 7:28 AM on July 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


I don't know of Dr Mann or his reputation other than what I've read in his linked article. But writing as a parent and a traveller, I'm pretty sure that the chances he was being deliberately provocative (a) while with his wife and children (b) trying to eat a meal (c) while on holiday in a foreign country... I'm not saying that he wasn't being provocative, but it seems unlikely.
posted by Hogshead at 7:35 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was at MIT with Steve Mann, and I do recall his presence causing a degree of discomfort for people, partly because of the attention-getting "I'm a cyborg" thing (he never gives it a rest!!), exacerbated by of high levels of the typical nerdly qualities that one tends to find at a place like MIT - lack of awareness of the nuances of social interactions, insensitivity to the effect one is having on others, etc. I don't want to be accused of blaming the victim here, but I have to wonder if he attempted at all to "play it cool" in Paris. (The fact that he chose to take his family to eat at McDonalds hints at the answer here). Perhaps both sides should have tried to be just a little cooler.
posted by crazy_yeti at 7:37 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


partly because of the attention-getting "I'm a cyborg" thing (he never gives it a rest!!)

Not an attention-grabbing cyborg wannabe, but a crusader for human rights for the disabled, surely.

The man is the Cyborg Rosa Parks. Someone should build him a statue.

A robot statue.

With a camera on its head.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:52 AM on July 17, 2012


Rosa Parks was intentionally provocative and "highly receptive" and "ready to make it a story." Does that invalidate the civil rights movement?

I'm confused that you compare one man's story to the entire Civil Right's movement. Mann was acting as an independent agent, not part of an organization or group to advance an entire movement. I don't think making comparisons like that are constructive to finding out what actually happened.
posted by FJT at 7:52 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Taking photos in a public place is a right. Do we really need to argue for why this is so?

It's not a right in France, and the photographers' bill of rights that has been posted multiple is very much at odds with both French law and common feeling in France. More than once I've seen tourists challenged or prevented from taking pictures in French shops and restaurants. There's a cultural norm here that's being ignored.

I also think this is going to be the hugest problem for Google Glasses, if they ever ship. We saw precursosrs of this with mobile phones, which now have mandatory "shutter" noises after abuses in Japan.
posted by fightorflight at 7:57 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


> I feel very ashamed that I REALLY want some McD's french fries right now.

Make your own

You'll have to blanch them in vinegared water, fry them, freeze, then fry again. The freezing actually improves the texture.

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt previously
posted by morganw at 7:58 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


fightorflight: I also think this is going to be the hugest problem for Google Glasses, if they ever ship.

They are currently available for developers to preorder, for shipping early next year. No date on when they'll be available for regular consumers, but they aren't vaporware, and governments are going to need to be thinking about this sort of thing right quick.

I imagine tens of thousands of devs will be experimenting with them next year; if I had the money, I'd want a go at them myself, just out of curiosity.
posted by gilrain at 8:00 AM on July 17, 2012


Not an attention-grabbing cyborg wannabe, but a crusader for human rights for the disabled, surely.

There are better ways to help the disabled than turning them into Mannian "cyborgs". Real medical technology (e.g. cochlear implants) is designed to be unobtrusive. Mann's rig seems designed to be a huge attention-getter.
posted by crazy_yeti at 8:03 AM on July 17, 2012


Presumably Google Goggles will be a little more common andhey'll get a certain level of international buzz when they're released and so people ought to be slightly more aware of them, as opposed to encountering one nerdy zealot protagonist with social interaction issues. Besides, the french are notoriously rude to all tourists, especially American ones.
posted by crunchland at 8:06 AM on July 17, 2012


crazy_yeti: Mann's rig seems designed to be a huge attention-getter.

He's been refining it for 25 years, well before wearable computing was even considered possible. This was when it was only dreamt of by science fiction writers. And in recent years, he's been vindicated in his self-adopted crusade to popularize the benefits of wearable computing.

He literally was wearable computing for 20 years. It seems almost insulting to then call him out as offensive because his homebrew rig is more attention-getting than Google's, which wouldn't exist without his lifelong work and research.

I'm sort of astonished at the lack of respect for a, yes eccentric, modern pioneer of computing. I feel like half of this thread would be laughing and pointing at a young Steve Jobs, who thinks computers can be in everyone's house rather than a huge room at a university.
posted by gilrain at 8:13 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Rosa Parks? Really?

He may turn out to be such a historical figure and this may have been the moment that defines him. Honestly, I find some of the politics he advocates a bit off-putting. (He'd like a world where our implants or HMDs can block out what we don't want to see.) Maybe we do need a cyborg social activist but I don't think it needs to be him, and there's no good reason I can think of to celebrate him as such. He makes cool devices and has been doing a decades long experiment on himself. For me the assault is an assault but how much more significant is it than that?

On a side note, I wonder why there's no audio. Other devices he's made have had audio recording functions triggered in similar ways. The images he's posted are quite convincing, but clearly are not enough on their own to settle what happened.
posted by mariokrat at 8:28 AM on July 17, 2012


fightorflight: It's not a right in France, and the photographers' bill of rights that has been posted multiple is very much at odds with both French law and common feeling in France.

Could you clarify the ways in which the Photographer's Bill of Rights is at odds with French law?

There's a cultural norm here that's being ignored.

Interesting, especially coming from the country of Henri Cartier-Bresson, the icon of street photography.
posted by syzygy at 8:36 AM on July 17, 2012


I suppose by that definition Ghandi and Rosa Parks were attention whores too.

It is literally impossible for me to take future comments you make about this seriously because of how ridiculous this one is.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:37 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the Rosa Parks angle is a bit hyperbolic, perhaps. Although, on the other hand, nobody knows a Rosa Parks moment when they see it... it's only in long hindsight that such pivotal moments become anything more than someone being quite rude indeed.

However, what happened to him was clearly wrong. Ejection, fine... but trying to rip off his obviously-complicated rig? And threateningly tearing up his medical papers? I mean, he was carrying those to explain himself to police or military when visiting places where it is explicitly okay to photograph. What if he'd run into trouble later in his vacation because he didn't have those?

He obviously ran afoul of a bully, pure and simple. And bullies especially hate people who stand out, or are different and not ashamed. If they have a little bit of leverage (e.g. that you're really not supposed to photograph in here), then they'll absolutely make it a big, scary deal rather than just insisting he leave.

If this were about a goth or someone with an alternative style getting harassed, I can only imagine there would be a lot more sympathy. I'm not sure why being a researcher-cum-technogeek gets so much of a "freaks should try being more normal" response.
posted by gilrain at 8:39 AM on July 17, 2012


Ginning up internet outrage by blogging about an injustice you've suffered has a lot of potential for abuse and error and any such accounts should absolutely be met with reasonable skepticism, even when the blogger is an eminent scientist and the alleged perps are the minions of a large, presumably evil corporation.
posted by prize bull octorok at 8:55 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I generally agree with that, prize, but in this case he explains that he's already tried going to every relevant authority he can think of. When your grievance has been ignored by everyone else, I think at that point it's reasonable to turn to the Internet.
posted by gilrain at 9:00 AM on July 17, 2012


Also, what reasonable skepticism? I mean, do you suppose that the papers we see being ripped up in the photo actually just say "fuck you, pig" in French, and he's lying about them being his medical documents in order to gain our sympathy?

I agree the reasonable skepticism is always appropriate, but I haven't seen any arguments that justify what happens, or skepticism that makes anything close to an argument that it's more likely Dr Mann is lying that that what he says happened, happened.
posted by gilrain at 9:02 AM on July 17, 2012


odinsdream: "Please at least pretend you read the site and some of the comments before yours. There's a clear picture of a McD's employee sitting calmly and tearing up his papers.

As others mentioned above, the only scenario that should cause physical altercations to occur is for the private business to call the police, who would deal with it however they see fit. Under absolutely no circumstances is it acceptable for McD's employees to touch a customer, much less rough them up.
"

Ok, first of all I did read the site, the comments here up to my posting, and look at the pictures. Now I may or may not have overlooked something in them or misinterpreted them, but I gave them what I thought was a reasonably careful viewing.

Second, I did see the picture that appears to be a McD's employee tearing up his documents. From that static shot he could also be transferring them from one hand to the other. He could also be holding a napkin. Although most of that picture is clear, the most important part very much is not.

Third, I don't think that there are no circumstances where it would be acceptable for a McD's employee to touch a customer. I know squat about French law. Do you know more? In any case, I think it would be entirely reasonable for the manager of the restaurant to attempt to use moderate force to escort a trouble making customer out of the dining room.

And finally, I was not and am not saying that Dr. Mann is lying or making trouble, that the McD's employees acted correctly, or that they didn't break his stuff or destroy his papers. I was responding to the comments by several people that it was impossible to even imagine a scenario where the McD's were in the right and Dr. Mann in the wrong. It is in fact quite easy to imagine such a scenario, and I agree with those who have said that at least some parts of his story seem to be missing. One doesn't have to absolve the McD's employees to think that his story doesn't totally add up as presented.
posted by Reverend John at 9:03 AM on July 17, 2012


I'm not sure why being a researcher-cum-technogeek gets so much of a "freaks should try being more normal" response.
I'm a self-identified freak, but I do try to be aware of the image I project, especially when traveling in foreign countries.
posted by crazy_yeti at 9:04 AM on July 17, 2012


I'm not comparing one man's story to "the entire civil rights movement." I'm questioning the idea that someone acting provocatively doesn't deserve to be listened to.

I furthermore detest the idea that going to McDonald's in Paris is evidence that this is a stunt. Sometimes people eat at McDonalds. Even Parisians!

There's a cultural norm here that's being ignored.

Mann isn't a photographer, so those 'Rights of Photographer' issues aren't relevant. He's vision-impaired, wearing an assistive device. If the cultural norm in any country is to harrass disabled people then I do think we have a responsibility to question that norm.

Second, I did see the picture that appears to be a McD's employee tearing up his documents. From that static shot he could also be transferring them from one hand to the other. He could also be holding a napkin. Although most of that picture is clear, the most important part very much is not.

This could easily be cleared up by Mickie-D's releasing the surveilance footage that they almost certainly took of the incident (despite the 'cultural norms' against photography of citizens!)
posted by muddgirl at 9:07 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Could you clarify the ways in which the Photographer's Bill of Rights is at odds with French law?
Going to need a French lawyer to weigh in, but permissible subjects includes some protected classes in France (including celebrities), and they do have rights to confiscate film etc.

It's not entirely clear-cut -- A good chunk of the privacy law really only covers publication (very broadly defined) however, not capture, and the notion of public space is rather smaller than it is in the US -- but the essential point is that photographers in France don't have the same freedoms as those in the US.

Interesting, especially coming from the country of Henri Cartier-Bresson, the icon of street photography.

Yes, I was thinking the same earlier. So much of the great street photography came from France -- I'm thinking also of Doisneau and Lartigue, who would have had trouble publishing under modern French law.

He's vision-impaired, wearing an assistive device
Is he? The link I read didn't say he was, only that he believed his work could help the vision impaired and he's worked with them in the past.
posted by fightorflight at 9:33 AM on July 17, 2012


I generally agree with that, prize, but in this case he explains that he's already tried going to every relevant authority he can think of. When your grievance has been ignored by everyone else, I think at that point it's reasonable to turn to the Internet.

Or a lawyer.

I don't care what the guy posts on his blog, I just think it's perfectly okay, and not victim-blaming, to prod at the story before taking up a pitchfork on his behalf.

Also, what reasonable skepticism? I mean, do you suppose that the papers we see being ripped up in the photo actually just say "fuck you, pig" in French, and he's lying about them being his medical documents in order to gain our sympathy?

The papers appear to be intact in that photo. Doesn't mean they weren't ripped, but it falls somewhat short of being incontrovertible proof that they were.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:34 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is he? The link I read didn't say he was, only that he believed his work could help the vision impaired and he's worked with them in the past.

I don't think Mann ever describes himself as 'disabled' (many people don't, especially those interested in mechanical assistance and cyborgs), but he has a physicians's note explaining the assistive device, which is more than is necessary IMO. I don't think the exact nature of that note is my business.
posted by muddgirl at 9:39 AM on July 17, 2012


The premise of the thread (at least if the title is a guide) is that there are notional rights, called "cyborg" rights, that are being threatened. Some of the evidence submitted in support of that premise is imagery captured by a concealed imaging device comprising part of the cyborg system, and placed in the public domain.

There is a hypothesis that there are other rights we might be worried about, arguably more real and threatened than emerging "cyborg" rights. For example, we might value the right to enjoy the freedom not to be the subject of ubiquitous surveillance. Such an argument might consider the pros and cons of that right, the role of implied and explicit consent in securing that right in social spaces, how consent might be granted and withdrawn through regulation and voluntary social conventions, and what the impact of concealed imaging technology (such as this) would have on such efforts. Such an exploration might enrich our understanding of the transactions that take place when expectations get misaligned around the use of imaging technologies in social spaces.

Isn't that a more interesting story here, rather than whether the McDonald's guys were right or wrong to beat up a chap for wearing funny specs?
posted by falcon at 9:39 AM on July 17, 2012


he has a physicians's note explaining the assistive device, which is more than is necessary IMO. I don't think the exact nature of that note is my business.

It is if you're trying to use it to say that a body modification is an assistive device (in the disability sense).

If I was to get multiple facial piercings I could also get a physician's note explaining that they were not easily removable, but it wouldn't mean that I was disabled and entitled to protection under disability laws. The barrier for that is higher than the mere existence of a letter with unspecified contents from a medical professional.
posted by fightorflight at 9:42 AM on July 17, 2012


This kind of situation is exactly why you build the robotic crusher lobster claw arm FIRST.
posted by benzenedream at 9:42 AM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


a concealed imaging device

It's a pretty visible imaging device.

I'm sorry, that's probably a little bit flip. I just find it hard to discuss 'ubiquitous surveillance' in a situation where a private citizen surveilled a company which is almost certainly surveilling him. It sort of reminds me of the questions raised by this story: why do we trust companies more than individuals? do we trade our privacy with companies for some benefit? Is privacy a commodity?

The barrier for that is higher than the mere existence of a letter with unspecified contents from a medical professional.

Again, I'm not aware of the content of the note. Have you seen it? I admit that I made some assumptions about the note, based on my own experiences. Haven't you as well?
posted by muddgirl at 9:47 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know that's not supposed to be the takeaway here but I'm gagging on the hyperbole. The emperor has no clothes man.

I'm just curious: What would it take, in your mind, for someone/something to be a "cyborg"? Would the connections have to break skin? Would you require a direct interface to the nerves? And wouldn't those be pretty fucking arbitrary criteria?
posted by lodurr at 9:52 AM on July 17, 2012


If I was to get multiple facial piercings I could also get a physician's note explaining that they were not easily removable, but it wouldn't mean that I was disabled and entitled to protection under disability laws. The barrier for that is higher than the mere existence of a letter with unspecified contents from a medical professional.

So it would be ethical for me to rip them off your face if they offended me?
posted by mobunited at 9:53 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


The premise of the thread (at least if the title is a guide) is that there are notional rights, called "cyborg" rights, that are being threatened.

I read the title ("Must we already worry about cyborg rights?") as expressing the idea that incidents like this this would indicate a rejection of the idea that we are protected from assaults on our person to remove cybernetic augments just based on our actual human rights.
posted by lodurr at 9:55 AM on July 17, 2012


falcon: The premise of the thread (at least if the title is a guide)

As is somewhat traditional on Metafilter, the title was meant as a joke. Also, see that it is tagged "futureworldproblems". I didn't post this to put forth the idea that cyborg rights are in danger or a huge issue at this moment in time, although the discussion has been interesting and worthwhile!
posted by gilrain at 9:57 AM on July 17, 2012


What would it take, in your mind, for someone/something to be a "cyborg"?

An interesting question. Some definitions apparently propose enhanced ability, but do not specify. Would enhanced mental ability count? I can now create perfect memories (via photography or audio recording) and perfectly access these memories and thousands of other people's experiences, through the use of a small electromechanical device that might as well be tethered to me.

Are implants mandatory to consider someone a 'cyborg?'
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:02 AM on July 17, 2012


We have a chance to stop the Borg here and now before trillions die, and you guys are defending them?! The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!
posted by entropicamericana at 10:07 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


My personal view is that the term is continually up for negotiation -- like all terms, really, but since this is a term that refers to new stuff, the definition's going to be subject to more contention.

I don't actually have any dog in the fight w.r.t. particular definitions -- I'm much more interested to watch the struggle than to stake a claim on a particular outcome -- but I do have a dog in the fight about dismissing people's efforts at innovation. I may think they're full of shit, but I try (anymore) not to dismiss the efforts of some artist or 'self-experimenter'.

I'm kind of fascinated by the number of people on this thread who know Steve Mann and say things like 'yes, he's an attention seeker, but he's not wrong and he shouldn't have been physically assaulted.' Nuance...what a concept!
posted by lodurr at 10:08 AM on July 17, 2012


I suspect the good Doc did something wrong he's not revealing which I suspect was likely winding up the staff after being politely, rightly or wrongly, acted to leave. Which like trying to reason with a bouncer even though you're not drunk it the wrong thing to do even though you're in the right. I have been in McDonald's dressed much weirder behaving very weirdly and never had any hassle.

And why no video of the incident, only pics? We have the technology!
posted by Damienmce at 10:11 AM on July 17, 2012


Again, I'm not aware of the content of the note.

Being unaware of the content of the note (as, yes, we both are) is completely different from saying it's irrelevant (or none of your business). And I think it's safer to assume it doesn't specify a disability that he doesn't mention anywhere else, ever.

So it would be ethical for me to rip them off your face if they offended me?

Yes, that's exactly what I said. After all, it's the only possible conclusion to draw from them not being protected by disability rights, which we know are the only rights in the world. In fact, I also think it's ethical for you to eat tramps and steal babies, just so long as they aren't disabled.
posted by fightorflight at 10:13 AM on July 17, 2012


Yes, that's exactly what I said. After all, it's the only possible conclusion to draw from them not being protected by disability rights

For the love of God, take caution in your tone...
posted by falcon at 10:16 AM on July 17, 2012


I took an undergraduate anthropology course, where I read a few texts that argued a much expanded concept of "cyborgs," including the internet as sort of a brain enhancement. The reasoning is based on brain imaging which shows that we think differently when using a tool we're super-familiar with, like a carpenter holding a hammer.

And I think it's safer to assume it doesn't specify a disability that he doesn't mention anywhere else, ever.

Really? I think it's safer to extend people the benefit of the doubt, rather than assume they are "attention whores" or drama queens or what have you. I would rather we assume, for example, that someone who brings a dog into a store is relying on an service dog, even if they don't stand up and announce to everyone that they need the dog to detect seizures.
posted by muddgirl at 10:17 AM on July 17, 2012


(Also, I'm not even talking about 'disability rights'. I'm talking about basic human decency.)
posted by muddgirl at 10:17 AM on July 17, 2012


Really? I think it's safer to extend people the benefit of the doubt, rather than assume they are "attention whores" or drama queens or what have you.

I agree, but this is not the case of someone bringing a dog into a store, it's the case of someone with a documented history of provative gestures to make political points. To say "it's disability and I don't need to know any more than he has a letter from a doctor" in this case seems to be extending the doubt past the point of credulity.

(Also, I'm not even talking about 'disability rights'. I'm talking about basic human decency.)

Yeah, to be clear, none of this excuses any sort of physical attack on him by McDonald's staff or otherwise, which as he describes it is pretty appalling. Just as it would be if it was any photographer getting beaten up. It doesn't need special disability pleading to make it somehow worse. It's already bad enough.
posted by fightorflight at 10:25 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


muddgirl: ...a much expanded concept of "cyborgs," including the internet as sort of a brain enhancement. The reasoning is based on brain imaging which shows that we think differently when using a tool we're super-familiar with, like a carpenter holding a hammer.

I've read some of that stuff. It's interesting, and it does seem intuitively likely that with a sufficiently transparent interaface and input medium, you notion of reality is liable to be pretty seriously conditioned by even non-intrusive implants (like, say, Google Glasses or the Eye Glass).
posted by lodurr at 10:32 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


fightorflight: any photographer? Or most photographers? Can we genuinely say there are not some kinds of photographers that you would stop, by force if necessary, if you knew what they were doing? If not, can we genuinely say we can tell by inspection which category any given photographer might be in? And if not, can't we say that all people being photographed and - by extension - all photographers, ought to exercise caution?
posted by falcon at 11:40 AM on July 17, 2012


I am not fightorflight, so I cannot speak for that person, but in my opinion -

"... any photographer?"

Yup. I'm making the assumption we're talking about a place accesible to the public where photographer is not forbidden, such as this one was.

"Or most photographers?"

Any.

"Can we genuinely say there are not some kinds of photographers that you would stop, by force if necessary, if you knew what they were doing?"

I don't know if "we" can, but I can.

"If not, can we genuinely say we can tell by inspection which category any given photographer might be in?"

So this question is therefore irrelevant to me.

"And if not, can't we say that all people being photographed and - by extension - all photographers, ought to exercise caution?"

Again, I'm not buying into the initial assumption.

Incidentally, I believe the law in France is that public photography is permitted, but the subject of the photo needs to give consent before the photo is published. That strikes me as fairly sensible.
posted by kyrademon at 11:56 AM on July 17, 2012


Can we genuinely say there are not some kinds of photographers that you would stop, by force if necessary, if you knew what they were doing?

No, no we can't. Photographers are taking photographs, by definition. Taking a photograph is never an act that requires an immediate violent intervention, because an image inside a camera does no harm. Any harm from publication can by dealt with and intervention staged properly between the shutter release and the publication.

If there is some other kind of harm you're thinking about -- like child abuse being photographed -- then, yes, I can see some kind of argument for violent action there. But that's not violence against photographers, it's violence against child abusers.

In the rest of the cases, like you say it's not possible to tell by inspection what a photographer is doing or intending to do with their photograph.

So, no, you don't ever have justification for violent action against someone for taking a photograph. Even those with a monopoly on violence (eg the police) can't ever justify violent action against a photographer for the act of taking a photograph. I'm pretty comfortable with that as a bright line.
posted by fightorflight at 11:59 AM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well Inspector Gadget has a point. I'm not understanding full how the slim glass is attached, but is it (visually to the casual observer, at least) not akin to try and yank a Cochlear implant out of a persons head? I would freak out and try to help the implanted person if I saw anyone yanking on those kinds of wires.
posted by dabitch at 12:05 PM on July 17, 2012


If there is some other kind of harm you're thinking about -- like child abuse being photographed -- then, yes, I can see some kind of argument for violent action there. But that's not violence against photographers, it's violence against child abusers.

It's quite difficult to pursue this, and perhaps unwise so forgive me if I misjudge, but the scenario I pose is not a hypothetical. There are individuals, known to the police and community, who loiter outside schools and other areas where young people congregate, and take pictures. Some do it for gratification, and some do it for money. There is some sort of network effect taking place that is driving up the number of offences, driven by the connection and growing wealth of Eastern European markets

The law makes it very difficult to intervene (for the reasons you rehearse), and the police don't. Parents are more or less forced into the position of choosing to wait until pictures are discovered online (from where it is usually impossible to remove them), or act as vigilantes.

None of this is an argument that the gentleman in this thread might have been such an individual. But it is to establish that there is a context to the statement that he might be unconditionally free to go about his business, it is an emotive one, and one which a large and growing number of people are aware of and would disagree with.
posted by falcon at 12:15 PM on July 17, 2012


Taking a photograph is never an act that requires an immediate violent intervention, because an image inside a camera does no harm. Any harm from publication can by dealt with and intervention staged properly between the shutter release and the publication.

Well is Mann's device a live feed or is it just a camera? Because if it's a live feed, the window of intervention is non-existent.
posted by FJT at 12:22 PM on July 17, 2012


Parents are more or less forced into the position of choosing to wait until pictures are discovered online (from where it is usually impossible to remove them), or act as vigilantes.

And since acting as vigilantes isn't justified for the reasons above, they don't have a choice: they have to wait until some sort of illegal publication, yes. But if the photographer has previously illegally published, then the better recourse is to get an injunction to prevent them photographing outside the school and have the police enforce that.

The law makes it difficult to intervene for a reason, and that reason is it's better to have a society where photographers are not subject to battery and harassment, even if that leads to awkward edge cases.

Well is Mann's device a live feed or is it just a camera? Because if it's a live feed, the window of intervention is non-existent.

I was just thinking about how this would work in broadcast situations. But again I don't see the justification for violence. A live feed being watched by others is really just a proxy for the viewers being there in person and watching the scene.

Looking isn't illegal, and neither is thinking, even if you are thinking deeply unsavory thoughts while you look. If what you're looking at is illegal, prosecute for that.
posted by fightorflight at 12:35 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I dunno, something about the way that article was written sets off my "not the whole story" radar.

In any case, I had my Android phone stolen, will all of my pictures, contacts, mobile "notes" (none of which I had backed up) by a McDonald's employee in a McDonalds.

After eating, I left my phone at the table and walked away. I returned about 20 minutes later to find that a nice customer had turned it to the manager. who had placed it in the back office, except... whoops! it was now gone.

But, whatevs... it was a $300 phone, but the pictures, contacts, and data were far more important. Cops couldn't do anything about it, because several employees were in and out of the office and the camera doesn't show the interior of the office itself.

No consequences that I'm aware of for the thief, the manager or the restaurant, and I honestly don't care enough to pursue it any further. In fact, I still eat there.
posted by Debaser626 at 12:36 PM on July 17, 2012


I worry, Falcon, about what happens if someone tries the vigilante approach in Florida. If Victor the vigilante tries to grab Paul the pervert's phone there, isn't Paul legally entitled to shoot Victor dead? I'm glad the French are more civilized.

But in either case, don't you draw a distinction between causal photography of an entire area and targeting of children? If, say, I'm filming my grandkid's first swimming trip to the pool and happen to catch Victor's kids in the (public), why should I pay Victor any attention at all if he doesn't like it? And if we quarrel, shouldn't the police break it up before we come to blows, or bullets?
posted by tyllwin at 12:51 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, that's exactly what I said. After all, it's the only possible conclusion to draw from them not being protected by disability rights, which we know are the only rights in the world. In fact, I also think it's ethical for you to eat tramps and steal babies, just so long as they aren't disabled.

Then what's your point? In my crude moral universe, the badness of ripping things off of someone when they are *attached to their flesh* is obvious. Ruling out implanted handguns and LEDs displaying selections from racist literature and the like, where are we going with this that makes it at all morally ambiguous? I don't care whether he's highly annoying or not; I'm pretty sure ripping things from his flesh is bad.
posted by mobunited at 2:20 PM on July 17, 2012


Then what's your point?
I was replying to (and disagreeing with) a point by muddgirl, who said that photographer's rights were irrelevant, that this was not about photography but disability, as the doctor's letter (regardless of what it says) makes the modification an assistive device.
posted by fightorflight at 2:24 PM on July 17, 2012


(that ripping things from his flesh is bad was never in dispute anywhere, that I can see)
posted by fightorflight at 2:27 PM on July 17, 2012


Everyone knows France is a lawless country (which happened to influence most continental legal systems) and that Parisian employees regularly assault customers (and tourists love it thus making Paris the most-visited city globally). Yes, let's laugh at the French.

I don't get it, is this a response to my comment or something else? I didn't write anything laughing about France or the French.

To spell it out for you, I meant that it is unlikely that criminals would set up petty fronts on the Champs-Élysées as it is prohibitively expensive and that, conversely, "Person A went to Paris and had a bad experience with server/scammer B" is possibly the most common story in the travel business.

Beyond that, a country's influence in legal thought doesn't say much about the presence of organized crime, and the size of the local tourism industry has imo something of an inverse relationship to the area's quality of service. Everyone knows that Paris is the world's largest tourist town, but this is really more of a reason to visit Bayonne instead as I see it.
posted by Winnemac at 2:36 PM on July 17, 2012


I'm sort of astonished at the lack of respect for a, yes eccentric, modern pioneer of computing. I feel like half of this thread would be laughing and pointing at a young Steve Jobs, who thinks computers can be in everyone's house rather than a huge room at a university.

In my comment I specifically called out the great contributions Dr. Mann has made to wearable computing.

And also called him an attention whore.

There's no reason he can't be both.

Just like Steve Jobs is a personal hero who revolutionized the computer industry again and again and again.

Doesn't mean he wasn't also an asshole.
posted by formless at 2:59 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are so many things missing from the account of the exchange that I'm finding it really difficult to have the same kinds of sympathy for Dr Mann that some people here clearly feel. It's bothered me all evening.

He doesn't detail if there were any verbal exchanges immediately prior to having the glasses removed but neither does he say that it took place without any warning. They were 'damaged', but in a way that he doesn't describe. In his own words there is no reference to discomfort or pain when the attempted removal took place.

Leaving out the questions over what his 'doctors letter' actually says what, exactly, was the other 'documentation'? From the photo's it seems that it comprises of a glossy magazine?

Some of the wording selection here also sets off bell but I understand that's just how some people are. I don't for one minute accept his explanation that the images were retrieved from a non-volatile buffer. Sounds like techno-waffle to me. Not precise enough to ascertain the methodology, woolly enough to get his message across ("Nothing is continuously recorded!!"). What he's wearing is, by his own admission, WIP and I'm sure he carries enough kit around with him to be making a constant record - an old article but I'm sure he's not retired the feature.

Until there's more information I'm going to call it as I read it which is man is asked to leave restaurant because he can't turn off (or take off) photographic recording equipment when such equipment is banned. We're probably talking local security (which covers area where McDonalds is situated) and an interested McD's employee (hey, this is more interesting that sweeping up discarded french fries). He refuses and, finally, he's physically removed (pushed). How long does all of this take? We don't know. Is it a McDonald's problem? Probably not.
posted by ivorbuk at 4:12 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would guess that the missing part of the story is when the manager said you must leave, we don't allow recording here, and he refused and tried to use his doctor's note as the excuse, which isn't an excuse at all for what they were asking him to do.

Still, Parisians are assholes. Just kidding. Sort of.
posted by cell divide at 4:53 PM on July 17, 2012


What may be the world’s first cybernetic hate crime unfolds in French McDonald’s
posted by homunculus at 10:44 PM on July 17, 2012


"We explored what happened when we'd bring an ordinary handheld camera into places with surveillance," Mann said during a virtual presentation. "I was often told only criminals were afraid of cameras (by store employees), but then I was told that I couldn't record in those stores."

The experiment led to a humorous scene with a trio of Wal-Mart employees.

Mann enters the store with the documentary filmmakers
[of the film Cyberman], a handheld digital camera and his Eye-Tap glasses. As he stands under a security camera and the television monitor showing people as they enter and leave the store, two employees tell him he isn't allowed to record anything. He counters that if the store can run surveillance, he should be able to record. The filmmakers are eventually run out when the assistant manager can't explain the difference between taping for security and his Internet media experiment.

He's met with similar reactions from the New York City police department and the Secret Service. In a strange twist of fate, Mann actually missed the Austin screening because airport security wouldn't let him on the plane with his gear.
-- Wired: Part Man, Part Film, All Mann, 2002
posted by crunchland at 2:06 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


tyllwin: I worry, Falcon, about what happens if someone tries the vigilante approach in Florida. If Victor the vigilante tries to grab Paul the pervert's phone there, isn't Paul legally entitled to shoot Victor dead? I'm glad the French are more civilised.

I worry, too. That is precisely the risk some groups - for example, parents - are forced endure as a cost of the unrestricted freedom to photography anything, anywhere advocated by others. To be fair, like the French we have a lower (but not zero) proclivity for shooting each other in Scotland.

But in either case, don't you draw a distinction between causal photography of an entire area and targeting of children?

Yes. But since we can't, in practice, make such a distinction (and certainly not with implanted cyborg devices), aren't we compelled to evaluate the merits of the freedom to photograph anything relative to the merits of being free from the abuses that arise from of the freedom to photograph anything, and act conservatively?
posted by falcon at 2:24 AM on July 18, 2012


falcon: since we can't, in practice, make such a distinction (and certainly not with implanted cyborg devices), aren't we compelled to evaluate the merits of the freedom to photograph anything relative to the merits of being free from the abuses that arise from of the freedom to photograph anything, and act conservatively?

Absolutely! We should weigh the potential for real harm to innocent victims against the cost of restricting the rights of all citizens, the vast majority of whom are not abusers. And we should always act conservatively when the question at hand is one of restricting the rights of all citizens!

It is a cost/benefit analysis, and the cost of restricting citizens' freedoms is a very high one, indeed.

If you could write a law to address this danger, what would it say?
posted by syzygy at 3:22 AM on July 18, 2012


I guess I was more right in my first comment than I actually suspected when I said that "there's a deeply ingrained need in the American psyche to blame the victim if somebody falls foul of anybody in a position of authority, even if it is only afternoon shift manager at a MickeyD's". Because boy, have I seen a lot of victim blaming here.

It's the classic trifecta:

1) Testimony of the victim himself is disbelieved
2) Excuses are made for the bullies with the idea that he must've done something to set them off.
3) Supposedly relevant behaviour of the victim is dragged into the incident to explain why the bullies were right to attack him, even though there's no evidence they could've even know this

It's really no different from what the Zimmerman defense squad were doing in the Trayvon Martin threads.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:37 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


From WiReD article quoted above: The filmmakers are eventually run out when the assistant manager can't explain the difference between taping for security and his Internet media experiment.

... which is interesting, because there's a really obvious difference: Walmart is private property and can claim (assuming absence of state law to the contrary) a right to constrain activities on their premesis. The interesting part is that the ass't mgr can't come up with that -- I'd have expected it to be page one of his 3 ring binder.

(not condoning, just noting.)
posted by lodurr at 5:08 AM on July 18, 2012


It's really no different from what the Zimmerman defense squad were doing in the Trayvon Martin threads. -- Except that Professor Mann didn't end up dying. And though there's no excuse for the assault, it's clear that Mann has had many years of experience with people who can't seem to cope with his eccentricities and has displayed a pattern for intentionally trying to provoke a reaction from them.
posted by crunchland at 5:13 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


All of you folks who keep saying "there's something missing from his account" -- I'd like to hear you say what you would like to find in Steve Mann's account that would convince you.

I'd suggest that what you really want is a third party account.

Mann's account is actually pretty comprehensive. He tells us everything that's useful that he's going to tell us. If (for example) he stormed in and started singing the Star Spangled Banner and ordering McFreedom Fries and staring everyone in the face like he's taking their picture -- why in the world would you expect him to tell us that?

So this "there's something missing from Mann's account of the incident" stuff is really seriously missing the point.

But what's missing (i.e., someone else's account) is also interesting. Because of the fact that it's missing, Mann's account is immediately dismissed as less plausible.

And as long as there is no other account -- corroborating or not -- that situation will persist.
posted by lodurr at 5:14 AM on July 18, 2012


... my point being: even in a surveillance state, absence of released video (e.g. from McDonalds France corporate) will essentially make their problem go away, as long as no one is willing to corroborate for the crazy American provocateur.
posted by lodurr at 5:16 AM on July 18, 2012


Does anybody know how well Mann speaks French?
posted by lodurr at 5:19 AM on July 18, 2012


I would guess it depends on the quality of his implant.
posted by crunchland at 5:20 AM on July 18, 2012


A deficiency in the local language (which I now realize is implicit in the fact that he doesn't tell us what Perps 1-3 are talking about) could explain a lot of the stuff people think is "missing" from the account.
posted by lodurr at 5:29 AM on July 18, 2012


lodurr - "I'd suggest that what you really want is a third party account."

Yep, pretty much so. It's that he doesn't give any context to his claims of assault - which is the big hook on the story. There's a whole article explaining what he was doing in france, but he doesn't give us any actual context of the 'physical assault' other than in the most general terms :

"He angrily grabbed my eyeglass, and tried to pull it off my head"

And that's it. You can boil down the whole article to that one sentence. I'd like to see a little bit more information before condemning the guards actions as unreasonable. Did he tell the guard they couldn't be removed, or did he just say that he wouldn't take them off? What does the eyeglass look like now (note the pic he's provided is from 13 years ago)? Had the guard even seen the letter before he tried to remove the glasses?
posted by ivorbuk at 6:51 AM on July 18, 2012


I'd like to see a little bit more information before condemning the guards actions as unreasonable.

Why? When is it ever OK for a McD's employee to grab someone's glasses off their face?
posted by odinsdream at 7:14 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


They aren't glasses. And who's to saying he's a McDonald's employee? In the article he doesn't say (only identifying one employee involved in the actual incident).

Who knows what went on because the exchange isn't detailed. We only get one side of the story.
posted by ivorbuk at 7:27 AM on July 18, 2012


They aren't glasses. And who's to saying he's a McDonald's employee?

I'm not sure what you're looking to achieve by playing a word-game about whether to call them glasses or something else. You just called them glasses.
posted by odinsdream at 8:14 AM on July 18, 2012


I figured you were likening them to corrective spectacles, like the ones I'm wearing. They aren't. Apologies if I was confusing with the wording.
posted by ivorbuk at 8:20 AM on July 18, 2012


I don't think what they're called is relevant to whether someone should be permitted to physically remove them from your face. Certainly not some other civilian. I'm not even sure it would be appropriate for a law enforcement officer to do so. They'd be within their rights to arrest you if you disobeyed an order to remove them, for whatever reason, but to actually remove them for you? No, I'm afraid that crosses quite a line.
posted by odinsdream at 9:04 AM on July 18, 2012


I can't possibly be the first person to point out that the odds are 99:1 or better that this McDonald's has its own security cameras in place, has footage of the incident recorded on said cameras, and, should the need arise, will be able to present its own side of the story with what are likely to be moving images, perhaps captured from multiple angles, maybe even with audio?

I am unashamed to report that I find this prospect more than a little chuckle-worthy.
posted by hoople at 11:08 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


And indeed I wasn't the first. Sorry, no regrets, coyote, I missed your comment on first skim.
posted by hoople at 11:11 AM on July 18, 2012


McDonald’s provided this statement to KurzweilAI on July 18, 2012:
“We share the concern regarding Dr. Mann’s account of his July 1 visit to a McDonald’s in Paris. McDonald’s France was made aware of Dr. Mann’s complaints on July 16, and immediately launched a thorough investigation. The McDonald’s France team has contacted Dr. Mann and is awaiting further information from him.

In addition, several staff members involved have been interviewed individually, and all independently and consistently expressed that their interaction with Dr. Mann was polite and did not involve a physical altercation. Our crew members and restaurant security staff have informed us that they did not damage any of Mr. Mann’s personal possessions.

While we continue to learn more about the situation, we are hearing from customers who have questions about what happened. We urge everyone not to speculate or jump to conclusions before all the facts are known. Our goal is to provide a welcoming environment and stellar service to McDonald’s customers around the world.”

- McDonald’s
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:29 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Interesting. So McD's is basically saying it's a lie, not trying to play games with shading words? Well, at that point I think we just have to wait for evidence.
posted by tyllwin at 1:23 PM on July 18, 2012


"No, I'm afraid that crosses quite a line."

If police feel it's appropriate, they'll do it. What they do and how far they go depends on the circumstances (are you expecting to be able to retain your glasses in a strip search? How about if you were to refuse to undress - do you get to keep your pants?). It's all about the circumstances.

There's a bit of extra commentary from him on this post (there may be others, I've not really had much reading time). This article makes it sound like the forcible removal of him from the shop is what caused the damage and not trying to remove the glasses but, again, it's not totally clear. Certainly whatever force caused the damage affected the iPhone and motherboard he keeps in his trousers, if we can take anything away from that.

Also he mentions being stopped on the way to the toilet. Call me falcon but I'd be somewhat uncomfortable in the knowledge that a man with a camera strapped to his head is heading for the toilets in a child friendly restaurant.

All I'm saying is that, before we all pile in on the staff, let's wait for a bit more data because the only account we've had so far is one sided. There are lots of guards out there who have to deal with difficult people and do it in a reasonable and benign way.
posted by ivorbuk at 2:31 PM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


syzygy : It is a cost/benefit analysis, and the cost of restricting citizens' freedoms is a very high one, indeed.

In your paradigm, perhaps (individualist/transactional society). Not in the paradigm of the European society the OP is set in. We'll happily give up freedoms you imagine to be essential in return, for example, for the ability to make a wrong turn off a freeway and not get shot in the face. Works for us.

If you could write a law to address this danger, what would it say?

I wouldn't. Rules provide general frameworks, but it's facile to imagine you can legislate for every eventuality, that everything not prohibited by law is permissible, and that merely by observing and safeguarding every law you can create a civil society.

You routinely agree to abide by voluntary restrictions, even though there is no law: you won't maliciously leave an unattended bag in a shopping mall, knowing the security incident would shut it down for the day - society would be intolerable if everyone did that, so you cooperate.

Laws are necessary, but not sufficient. It's those voluntary agreements we make that create civil society. So I'd make it the subject of a voluntary agreement, a social norm. Make photographing sensitive subjects without explicit permission as unacceptable as drink/driving (enforced by law, yes, but enforced far more strongly by societal disapproval).

I think it matters in the context of this thread. The technology is trivial. It's a childish undertaking to strap sensors on us and wire ourselves up. The really difficult part is - how do we respond, as a society with mutual obligations to one another, to the hazards it creates?
posted by falcon at 4:09 PM on July 18, 2012


For what it's worth, by pure chance I passed Stephen Mann walking down Dundas Street in Toronto this afternoon. For a split second, I thought about stopping him and mentioning this thread to him but then thought, "No, I don't want to be recorded," and that was that.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:04 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


McDonalds France is saying it's a lie, yes, and citing no evidence other than the personal testimony of the accused. No video. No patrons.

As I said: As long as they fail to provide their video....
posted by lodurr at 6:05 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


"No, I don't want to be recorded," -- If you passed him, assuming he looked at you, you already were.
posted by crunchland at 6:17 PM on July 18, 2012


Nah, he was looking down at his kids.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:45 PM on July 18, 2012


falcon:
In your paradigm, perhaps (individualist/transactional society). Not in the paradigm of the European society the OP is set in.

I've comfortably called Europe home for the past dozen years. I imagine I'll be buried here when the time comes. And I respectfully disagree with the notion that Europeans in general don't consider restricting citizen rights and freedoms to be a high price to pay in return for some other good. The calculus may not be the same as in the States, but you're flat out wrong if you think Europeans, in general, are ready to give up their rights for the slightest increase in comfort or safety. See the recent uproar over restrictions of press freedoms in Hungary for an example.

We'll happily give up freedoms you imagine to be essential in return, for example, for the ability to make a wrong turn off a freeway and not get shot in the face. Works for us.

What.

It's those voluntary agreements we make that create civil society.

The problem is that those who would abide by these voluntary agreements are the very ones who would not take pictures of children in bathing suits and share them with pedophiles, anyway. So you've really gained nothing, other than encouraging 'innocent' photographers and artists not to photograph strangers' children, while the 'dangerous' photographer is already used to living outside of societal norms as a part of his very condition.
posted by syzygy at 1:24 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Our crew members and restaurant security staff have informed us that they did not damage any of Mr. Mann’s personal possessions.

So erm, McDonald's, forgive me for stating the obvious, but there are photos of your crew members or restaurant security staff tearing up some documents of Mr Mann's. This seems to directly contradict that shameless fucking lie you've just trotted out...
posted by Dysk at 1:41 AM on July 19, 2012


syzygy : you're flat out wrong if you think Europeans, in general, are ready to give up their rights for the slightest increase in comfort or safety.

OK, well as someone who was born and has lived here and had the opportunity, through extensive travel and overseas residence, to contrast it with other societies, I also respectfully disagree. Perhaps each of us filters the world through our own cognitive eyepieces.

But your original assertion was that the price was "very high indeed". Your assertion now is that the rights being argued for here represent "the slightest increase in comfort and safety". To the extent that your concession that the calculus varies from place to place accommodates my points that the price might not be so high, and the increases in safety might be more than slight, we can agree.

The problem is that those who would abide by these voluntary agreements are the very ones who would not take pictures

You miss my point. The person being invited to abide by voluntary agreements over the way you use technology is you - the user of technology - not the abusers of technology - specifically to exert the sort of social pressure with which you are already comfortable in other contexts.

Anyway - my interest was in challenging the automatic assumption that all technology, and all freedom to use technology, is axiomatically good, a point which ivorbuk tacitly accepts. I appreciate you sharing your views on the matter.
posted by falcon at 3:54 AM on July 19, 2012


crunchland: "No, I don't want to be recorded," -- If you passed him, assuming he looked at you, you already were.

And if you passed me, you very possibly were -- in my memory.

But that's different," you might rightly respond. And I might justifiably disagree, pointing out that the distinction between "authentic" memory via, well, memory, and "artificial" memory through technological means is itself artificial in the literal sense of the term. (This debate goes back at least to the pre-Socratic greeks and their "arts of memory," and would also require touching on such high-tech innovations as language, the notepad and the sketchbook.)

Which is exactly the kind of discussion Mann is trying to engender, ironically enough....
posted by lodurr at 5:58 AM on July 19, 2012


Countering McDonald’s Denial, Cyborg Posts New Photo of Alleged Assault
posted by lodurr at 7:11 AM on July 19, 2012


On Becoming A Cyborg:
All the sounds I’ve been missing out on have become unfamiliar objects in my ears. My brain weighs them and turns them over and inspects them, but doesn’t know what they are. I guess it misattributes some of them, which accounts for the phantom noises, and leaves the rest unlabelled. The accumulated weight of this miscellaneous noise starts to wear me down. It’s a constant orchestra of unknowable sound above my head. I try covering my ears but that makes the songbirds squeal. I resist the urge to tear them out. I wonder if parts of my brain were liberated by the lack of sensory input and are now being press-ganged back into service by the electric songbirds in my ears, because I feel mentally exhausted and slightly nauseous. I want to call in to work sick. I decide to sit in a park for a few minutes to rest.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:25 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cyborg America: inside the strange new world of basement body hackers
posted by homunculus at 6:22 PM on August 8, 2012


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