Case Study 6: The Transparent Society
Sacrificing anonymity may be the next generation’s price for keeping precious liberty, as prior generations paid in blood. HAL NORBY
You’re wondering why I’ve called you here. The reason is simple. To answer all your questions. I mean—all. This is the greatest news of our time. As of today, whatever you want to know, provided it’s in the data-net, you can know. In other words, there are no more secrets.
THE SHOCKWAVE RIDER, 1974
Read David Brin’s The Transparent Society. This article is the first chapter from Brin’s book of the same name. In it he takes a contrarian view of the relationship between privacy and freedom. This is a controversial opinion, which Brin himself admits,
“After all these pages playing the contrarian, I actually retain a fair amount of pragmatic skepicism aimed in all directions. Until I see that it really works as advertised, I’d be happy to have transparency move ahead in baby steps.
“But I am sure of one thing. People of bad intent will be far more free to do harm in a world of secrets, masks, and shrouds than in a realm where the light is growing all around, bit by bit.”
Submit your answers to the questions below.
- In Brin’s “City Number Two” (the Transparent Society), he refers to the police as “efficient, respectful and above all accountable.” Why does he think this would be the case?
- Why does Brin consider criticism valuable? How does this relate to transparency? We’re not asking about surveillance or two cities here.
- According to Brin, has increased surveillance in the real world made society safer, in those places where it has been implemented? We’re not asking about his hypothetical two cities here. We’re also not asking about its effects on privacy.
- What is the effective difference between Brin’s “City Number One” and “City Number Two”? Think in terms of civil liberties. A description of how these two cities work is not enough, you must tell me about civil liberties.
- Read Participatory Panopticon. Jamais Cascio claims that the camera phone is a “harbinger of a massive social transformation.” How does his account of the events of the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City support (or contradict) this view? For full points you need to tell what the social transformation is. A description of events is not enough.
I need two different papers- 500 words Each.