sousveillance and subvision

One of the many very nice concepts that I learned about first in Jean François Noubel’s work on collective intelligence is sousveillance which is the inverse of surveillance. It was first coined by Steve Mann and then later picked up by Howard Rheingold.

Besides the concept itself and it’s obviously deep ramifications on political and social structure, there are two things that keep coming to mind:

  1. “sousveillance” is a sucky English word. It’s a problematic concept vehicle for the concept because aurally (for English speakers) it’s almost indistinguishable from surveillance, and it’s hard to spell :-). So I’d thought of the term: subvision as the inverse of supervision, which then also could have the verb form “to subvise” (instead of “to supervise”).
  2. Sousveillance almost necessarily will have a deeply negative effect on privacy, something that I’ve hold to be very important. But then I found this little parable (also by Steve Mann), which clearly shows how many of the ways we protect privacy is through pseudoprivacy measures that actually decrease the possibility of true privacy in the long run.

[tags]sousveillance, surveillance, language, privacy, pseudoprivacy[/tags]

3 thoughts on “sousveillance and subvision

  1. francois

    My 2 cents:
    -You propose ‘subvision’, but what do you think of ‘undersight’ or ‘subveillance’ as Steve Mann suggests here:
    -Instead of aurally I believe you meant orally, or did I miss something?

  2. eric

    No, actually “aurally” which is about how it sounds. Orally means “by mouth”!

  3. francois

    OIC, this is a new word for me (

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