You don't notice your children growing up as much as friends and relatives because you see them every day. Likewise, with the Internet, it's something tough to get a gee-whiz, things-are-changing-fast moment when you spend much of your day in front of a computer.
I had one of those gee-whiz moments over the weekend when I got caught up on the whole Adam's Block situation in San Francisco. Let's let this Fox News clip get you up to date:
But, not so fast. At Internet speed, there was both embracement and very well pointed ire. From a C.W. Nevius SF Chron column this last Saturday:
Last Saturday, we told you the story of Adam Jackson, who pointed a Web camera out the window of his Tenderloin apartment and created a hot Internet site.
Today, we tell you how it all went wrong, from a flurry of death threats to being targeted by cyberbullies. But just when it looked like the thugs had bullied Jackson into taking down his site, the community rallied behind the concept of neighborhood cameras. In fact, the interest may be stronger than ever.
There are lots of lessons here. For starters, Jackson has learned about privacy on the Internet: There isn't any. Second, neighborhood cameras work - for better or worse, they focus attention on life on the street.
And third, did you ever wonder why it is so difficult to get people to step up and try to make things better in troubled neighborhoods? It's because there are always some self-appointed guardians of the status quo who make it as difficult as possible.
One week ago, adamsblock.com was a cool new Web site that was picking up additional viewers every day. It consisted of two cameras on Taylor Street that aired 24-hour views of the street. A microphone picked up street sounds, and a chat board allowed regulars to talk about what they were seeing. They counted buses, raced each other to post the numbers written on taxis, and developed a little culture of their own.
The site was a hit not only with viewers from all over the world, but with neighborhood groups. They realized that when they saw crimes occur, they could immediately report them to the police, and that's just what they did.
Now, live Internet video of bad, interesting, tawdry or banal things is not exactly a new thing. But, there is something of a tipping point occurring when a site like this can get so much attention. Much as did the low-quality video that one family used to keep watch on a campaign sign that kept being stolen.
What does this all mean? I have no idea. But, the mind can wander...
Does it mean that eventually every neighborhood will have live video watches?
What if the video is easily recorded and replayed to others with an intent that is little focused on preventing or catching bad guys?
Is a citizen surveillance state any better (or worse) than a government surveillance state?
Will the video camera become the new favorite tool of vigilante justice?
The kid who recently killed himself on a live video stream recently made national news. Will the rawness of live Internet video make regulators approach rule making differently than if they were just considering "controllable" pre-recorded video?
With an unlimited number of "channels" what intensely stupid things will people do in the coming years to try to get attention to their stream? Likewise, what genuinely wonderful and artistic things will 30 people from all over the world catch when watching talented performers broadcast from a Kiev apartment?
While you are thinking about these questions and coming up with more, get sucked into a couple oddly transfixing clips from Adam's Block...
Man Jumps Against Bus Another Night in the'loin