Monday, March 15, 2010


“He is seen, but does not see; he is the object of the information, never a subject in communication” (200).
After reading Foucault's Panopticism, I am left with a lot of questions about how we can apply the "panopticism theory" in our digital, "new media" age. In section, I'd really like to focus on how we can apply this excerpt with the article "Societies of Control" written by Deleuze. I'd like to focus on:

  • 1) The prisoner vs. the jailer?
I feel as though I understand the thesis of the prisoner being held captive by the IDEA of being watched. But then, what is the responsibility and actions of the jailer? i.e. should the jailer exist? Should s/he even bother to look?

  • 2) How does this theory work in the digital world?
I guess my question is how can we relate this article to the database. So how does this theory of "self-control" "self-imprisonment" and "power" tie back to the database? With the quote that I cited at the beginning of this post, I think it would be interesting if we could unpack that a little in our database world -- i.e. google. For instance, when you google my name, you can see all of these "embarrassing" things about me. There is no one other than myself with my name on the google database -- so you can see a ProJo article about me, my elementary school chess tournament results, and even the results of a URI math competition held in 2007 (I'm still on the front page of ... ) I guess it's also interesting because anyone with internet access is able to access these results and "information" about (database-self?) me... and it ties very nicely with Foucault's statement,
"There is a a machinery that asserts dissymmetry, disequilibrium, difference. Consequently, it does not matter who exercises power. Any individual, taken almost at random, can operate the machine, in the absence of the director, his family, his friendss, his visitors, and even his servants (Bentham, 45). Similarly, it does not matter what motive animates him: the curiosity of the indiscreet, the malice of a child, the thirst of knowledge of a philosopher who wishes to visit this museum of human nature, or the perversity of those whotake pleasure in spying and punishing. The more numerous those anonymous and temporary observes are, the greater the risk for the inmate of being surprised and the greater his anxious awareness of being observed. The Panopticon is a marvellous machine which, whatever use one may wish to put it to, produces homogeneous effects of power" (202).

No comments: