The Visible Man
October 27, 2007 5:07 PM   Subscribe

posted by strontiumdog at 5:20 PM on October 27, 2007

the guy's site.
posted by yeoz at 5:21 PM on October 27, 2007

"I've discovered that the best way to protect your privacy is to give it away," he says,

Soon, I don't doubt, that will be the ONLY way to protect your privacy from the increasingly paranoid governments and law enforcement agencies.

At that point, I think I'll just drop off the map, rather than be constantly pinpointed on it. Alaska, perhaps. Or North Canada. Or the outer reaches of Australia. Yeah, that's do nicely...
posted by Brockles at 5:28 PM on October 27, 2007

Hasan Elahi whips out his Samsung Pocket PC phone and shows me how he's keeping himself out of Guantanamo. He swivels the camera lens around and snaps a picture of the Manhattan Starbucks where we're drinking coffee.

Ah, New Yorkers and their fantasies.
posted by phaedon at 5:30 PM on October 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

I commend him in throwing the surveillance back at DHS, but really, wouldn't this get in the way of real life.

It would be better if there were a website that you, or anyone, could go to and check up on people, see what the (transparent) government spying sees and knows.

(I know, if we let them know what we know, then they will know what we don't know, and they will be further enboldened in a cromulent way to do more stuff that we don't know yet.)

Having all the spying secret and locked away just makes paranoids of us all. If it is used as a performance art, and it catches on, all of us will be playing parts in this great televised drama. Accessible to anyone who wants to watch.

That's the only way that this Age of Surveillance would be OK with me.
posted by Balisong at 5:34 PM on October 27, 2007

Do digital images hold up in court?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:40 PM on October 27, 2007

posted by blue_beetle at 5:59 PM on October 27, 2007

Can he ever decide to stop or miss a day without looking incredibly suspicious (to the wrong people)?
posted by null terminated at 6:05 PM on October 27, 2007

A neat idea, but it has to be exhausting after awhile. And as null terminated pointed out, you've really got to stick with it.
posted by Rangeboy at 6:24 PM on October 27, 2007

Why is his present location my house, while I'm out of town on business? My wife didn't mention having any old friends over. Hm.
posted by maxwelton at 6:27 PM on October 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

Are there any truly transparent governments in existence? I think they would be a beautiful thing, but even my podunk city council has "off the record" meetings.
posted by maxwelton at 6:29 PM on October 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

first link crashed my mac on firefox.
posted by parmanparman at 6:42 PM on October 27, 2007

so he started photoblogging everything he does, all day long, to establish a constant alibi.

That's right folks, not only do you need an alibi, but a constant one! Sure, you may be innocent NOW, but two minutes from now?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:55 PM on October 27, 2007

A while back someone I know was wondering whether the conjunction of surveillance cameras in the UK and the data protection laws meant that you could request a copy of all the camera footage containing you. You could go on vacation in London, come home, then order your vacation slides from the UK government.

I don't think he ever tried it though.
posted by hattifattener at 6:57 PM on October 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

Incredible. He's essentially taken on the government's burden of spying on him, by doing all the spying himself.

One might argue that he's not being smart by doing this, he's being a sucker.

"Thank you, citizen, for sparing us the effort!"
posted by micketymoc at 6:57 PM on October 27, 2007

Soviet Russia, America becomes you!
posted by Mick at 7:04 PM on October 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

This is awesome! I'm a muslim American. When I started my weblog, I definitely considered the value of making information publicy available corroborating that I'm not a nutjob. I wouldn't be surprised if many muslim bloggers feel the same way.

Not that I have any reason to suspect I'm being monitored. None at all. No, really.
posted by BinGregory at 7:05 PM on October 27, 2007

Can you move the coffee mug off of the end table, BinGregory? It's making it hard to get a decent picture from camera #4.
posted by maxwelton at 7:10 PM on October 27, 2007 [4 favorites]

Of course, his action is also taking lemons and making lemonade, turning his surveillance into something of a protest. An effective one I'd say, even in this age when lots of people look at protesting as automatically suspicious.

(The result, perhaps, of too many things like animal rights activists flinging blood at fur coat wearers. The right has fairly successfully painted that in the media as representing all left-leaning activists.)
posted by JHarris at 7:13 PM on October 27, 2007

Sounds like a less harrowing version of the movie Freeze Frame, where Lee Evans plays a man who tries to film and catalog every moment of his life after being accused of a murder.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:07 PM on October 27, 2007

From the introduction to David Brin's book The Transparent Society (1998):
This is a tale of two cities. Cities of the near future, say ten or twenty years from now.

Barring something unforeseen, you are apt to live in one of these two places. Your only choice may be which.
Consider City Number One. In this place, all the myriad cameras report their urban scenes straight to Police Central, where security officers use sophisticated image-processors to scan for infractions against the public order -- or perhaps against an established way of thought. Citizens walk the streets aware that any word or deed may be noted by agents of some mysterious bureau.
At first sight, things seem quite similar in City Number Two. Again, there are ubiquitous cameras, perched on every vantage point. Only here we soon find a crucial difference. These devices do not report to the secret police. Rather, each and every citizen of this metropolis can lift his or her wristwatch/TV and call up images from any camera in town.
In City Two, such micro cameras are banned from some indoor places... but not Police Headquarters! There, any citizen may tune in on bookings, arraignments, and especially the camera control room itself, making sure that the agents on duty look out for violent crime, and only crime.

Despite their initial similarity, these are very different cities, disparate ways of life, representing completely opposite relationships between citizens and their civic guardians. The reader may find both situations somewhat chilling. Both futures may seem undesirable. But can there be any doubt which city we'd rather live in, if these two make up our only choice?
Pick a card, any card...
posted by cenoxo at 8:53 PM on October 27, 2007

Freeze Frame?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:00 PM on October 27, 2007

I would be happier if joe-wingnut-blow have control of the cameras, (and so would I), than not knowing, or being able to know, what they are concentrating on.

A good first step would be that we could access any (publicly funded) camera installed.

Sure, during the weather report on the local newscast, they will show the highway, or a certain intersection where there is a problem, but I am sure that all these cameras were put there on the public dime, and we should be able to access them anytime, not just News-13 at 5:30.

In Colorado, we imposed TABOR, that says the taxpayers must approve any increase in taxes. These intersection cameras were either paid for by government grants, or by cutting something else, but either way, I didn't vote for the money to put them in.

But since they are in, the public general should have equal access to the feed, if not the direction.
posted by Balisong at 9:12 PM on October 27, 2007

I really can't say that I think public cameras are a good idea.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:41 PM on October 27, 2007

I really can't say that I think public cameras are a good idea.
posted by five fresh fish

Try and get them to stop. Or take them away. Nope. They are there, for good. Or evil. The only option is to use them for our own purposes.

If you take the sheeple stance, and accept them, than they won. If you take the anarchist stance and shoot them out, or cut their wires, that only justifies more cameras. Only if you use them, Overuse them, then they become worthless.

Much like the TSA no-fly list has been overused, with too many names to be usefull.
posted by Balisong at 10:00 PM on October 27, 2007

"We can coexist, but only on my terms. You will say you lose your freedom, freedom is an illusion. All you lose is the emotion of pride. To be dominated by me is not as bad for human pride as to be dominated by others of your species." - Colossus.

(Tell me I'm not the only one on Earth who's seen The Forbin Project)
posted by katillathehun at 10:25 PM on October 27, 2007

Does this have anything to do with Twitter?
posted by fatllama at 1:00 AM on October 28, 2007

the guy's site.

I thought artists were supposed to get laid a lot? Where are the fuck shots?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:39 AM on October 28, 2007

Ah. Clearly, he's protecting the reputation of Mrs Max Welton. Either that, or he's plotting jihad with her.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:42 AM on October 28, 2007

For more self-aware muslim kultcher projects, check out:

"Don't hate me because I'm muslim.... and beautiful."

"Frisk me, I'm muslim."

"My name causes national security alerts.... what does your name do?"

and more,

from HijabMan!

/shameless plug
posted by BinGregory at 1:37 AM on October 28, 2007

Are there any truly transparent governments in existence? I think they would be a beautiful thing, but even my podunk city council has "off the record" meetings.

Massachusetts Open Meeting Law
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:37 AM on October 28, 2007

He got hauled up by the feds once five years ago and now photodocs every waking moment of his life to save himself from Gitmo?? A little melodramatic I feel. But then he is a jet setting artist.
posted by brautigan at 4:19 AM on October 28, 2007

Nice of the guy to collect all that evidence against himself. All the pictures...he could only be scoping-out potential bombing targets. Off to gitmo!
posted by Thorzdad at 4:19 AM on October 28, 2007

[HajibMan t-shirts are quality!]
posted by algreer at 7:43 AM on October 28, 2007

Those t-shirts are great. I've got to get the one that reads, "Can I get an alhamdulillah?!"
posted by hojoki at 9:41 AM on October 28, 2007

Having all the spying secret and locked away just makes paranoids of us all.

that's kind of the point, if you're paranoid you'll police yourself for fear of the ever watchful eye. or whatever. check out foucalt.
posted by andywolf at 12:00 PM on October 28, 2007

Yeah, so is it just me, or is his site really hard to understand? I mean, you've got the GPS doodad (which could easily NOT be his true location). And then you've got random links to pictures which you click and you see shots of meals and places, with no indication of the time/location of where each was taken. And sometimes you click a photo and go to some weird link directory that makes no sense. It doesn't really "prove" anyone's innocent - the pics could be from anyone, anywhere.

Arty? Yes. But I have a feeling that the authorities only check it out to laugh at this dude for being a knob and thinking there is anything you can do to get those idiots off your back.
posted by SassHat at 12:35 PM on October 28, 2007

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