What is a camera, anyway?

by William Grosso

Related link: http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/

I subscribe to, and occasionally even read, the ip mailing list (it's too big, and contains too much, to read the entire thing every day. But, when I get the time, I do read it). Last Thursday's digest had a very interesting note about a change taking place in the way people behave in bookstores.

From the "It Had to Happen Eventually" department, people are using their digital camera-equipped mobile phones to take happy snaps of images in magazines in Japan.

The BBC reports bookstores are livid that people would take photos of their pictures and send them on.

The BBC notes: The Japanese Magazine Publishers Association says the practice is "information theft" and it wants it stopped.

It is the kind of thing that most Japanese young women wouldn't think twice about doing.

They might spot a new hairstyle or a new dress in a glossy fashion magazine and they want to know what their friends think - so they take a quick snap with their mobile phone camera and send everybody a picture.

But the publishers of those magazines feel they are being cheated out of valuable sales.

I saw something similar at JavaOne-- people were using their cellphone / cameras to snap pictures of the slides. And they were sending the slides to people in other sessions / other places, and actively chatting about the slides while the talk was going on.

This is an interesting illustration of the way technology changes the way we think of things. 10 years ago, cameras were things that produced photos, which went into photo albums, which were stored in the attic to help insulate the house.

Now? Rethink that notion. Camera's aren't what they used to be. Increasingly, they're not about long term persistent storage and "saving precious memories." Instead, they're visual aids for real-time social interaction.

Do you have a cellphone camera? If so, are you using it as a visual aid for real-time social interaction. And do you have a better phrase than "visual aids for real-time social interaction"?


2003-07-05 18:17:50
More inevitable changes
The situation you've read about was inevitable, and, to be honest, if you've been watching the copyright battles, long-foreseeable. As devices that allow us to record our experiences permeate our lives, there will be a battle over whether or not you are allowed to replay what you've experienced to yourself or others.

Indeed, so much industry is centered around the concept of unreplicated content, such as paper magazines, museums, and speeches. Is it moral to have a full-media recorder implanted in yourself that records what all that you see and hear? If so, then the questions will arise: "Is it moral re-play music that you have heard, or re-view print that you have seen? If so, is it moral to share those experiences/information with others?" In my mind, the distinction between information and experience will become quite blurred as recording technologies advance.

If the answers to the above questions are "No", then, there is a frightening implication: you are not free to relate your experiences as you please. Of course, we have restrictions today such as NDA's and secrecy clauses in agreements. Will we attempt to use NDA's to cover much of what people currently experience, but due to under-developed technology, provides income for some industries?

2003-07-08 16:52:54
More inevitable changes
I went to a baseball game the other day and there was a licence printed in tiny type on the back of ticket. One of the things I apparently agreed to by using the ticket was not to relate any account of the game without written permission of the team or Major League Baseball.

Maybe the motivation to include such language came from the lawsuit between Motorola and the NBA a while back, detailed here:

So my piddling act of civil disobedience for the day: the Oakland A's won last Thursday. It was a really good game. :)