Andre Castro/research/1.3/annotation Lyon-surveillanceCity

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David Lyon Surveillant Sorting in the City

Lyon in this text gives an overview of surveillance mechanisms in place in many urban areas at the outset of the twenty-first century; of 'how is the city made visible and order constructed today'(p.154)


Lyon begins this text by recognizing the intention of some surveillance practices towards improving citizen's life quality, which makes them be positively received by city planners. 'The question is, what other effects accompany the positive face of surveillance, especially as it is automated and informatized? And are the effects of surveillance positive for all or just for some'(p.154)


Not only is the city constantly watched-over by camera, but the captured images are tied to databases that allows them to 'be checked, stored and compared to with other kinds of personal data'(p.154). This combination of video surveillance and databases makes each citizen 'visible' at all times. And the aim of this constant watching eye is not to see every action but to 'anticipate, to plan for every eventuality'(p.155).


'policing has become part of risk management, for which surveillance knowledge is required. This is no longer knowledge of wrongdoing or of rule-breaking, so much as knowledge of who or what constitutes a risk'(p.161)


Preventive policies as portrayed in Adam Curtis' The Power of Nightmare when Bush and Blair administrations, were arresting possible terrorist not on the basis of what they have done, but on what they could do in the future.


'Who needs all this data?' - seeing into the future

'city surveillance is experienced constantly, from the first phone call in the morning, to the overhead camera in the street, to the retinal scan at the bank machine, to the tracking cookie in the computer ... Who wants all this personal data?'

The answer that is required for management purposes of different public and private bodies. And is used 'for calculating and managing risks ... This is why such agencies want to know not only what you are doing and saying, but also - more significantly - what you are likely to do or say next'(p.157). So that an anticipatory behavior or pre-emptive measures can be taken.


the spread of surveillance

Citizen's personal data collection is nothing new, as voters registers, record of birth, marriage of death have been collected for more than 200 years - 'Modernity is characterized among other things by the growth of surveillance'(p.157). But the spread of the computer has "democratized" surveillance, allowing more entities to join in the personal data collection process. 'Surveillance has been dispersed, decentred, disorganized and is a feature of all organizations in every city. Different organization have different purposes in mind'(p.157).


It seems that the various bodies, from the museum (with email inquiries), to the state (with census), to an online service (such as google) try to collect as much personal data as possible. 
Their aims vary (increase their conditions and audiences, control and serve a population, sell targeted advertisement space to sellers). 
All of them try to create a accurate profile of the citizen in order to better control him. We may then not only speak of ONE data identity but a multiplicity of identities. 
Who am I for each database?  

'it is a simulated user, the sum of Internet transactions, who is the focus, but this makes no difference to the effect'(p.167)


Surveillance, once restricted to control of state and workplace administration. People were place in the categories of "Citizen" and "Worker". Society's restructuring and technology made this categories less distinct and have been expanded by "consumer surveillance" (p.161).


'Increasingly, surveillance data are used to simulating, modeling and anticipating situations that have not yet arisen, and decisions are made on the basis of such information. ... Moreover, agencies and organizations involved in planning often try to coordinate their activities'(p.167)

State and private surveillance are entangled and citizen's data can be exchanged between these different bodies. What are the risks behind such practice?? 


Surveillance has been used to managed consumers

'We are involved in our own surveillance as we leave the tracks and traces that are sensed and surveyed by different surveillance agencies ... We are indeed the bearers of our own surveillance'(pp:157-158).

And not only these body try to collect our data, but we became constant producers of personal data.
This gathering happening more visibly online, what some of the agencies have simply set up the mechanisms for constantly gathering the personal data we leave 
behind in using their front-end services (email accounts, social networks, image storage, etc).

surveillance as seduction

Surveillance is no simply coercive and controlling. It is often a matter of influence, persuasion and seduction ... The power of surveillance is strung out along a broad spectrum from tight, coercive control, through to loose and mild seduction; from obligation to influence' (pp:157-158).

'mere bureaucratic power seems no longer seems to be the goal of surveillance ... it may include control but it contributes to something much broader - simply producing knowledge useful for administering populations'(p.161)

Adam Curtis' 'The Century of the Self' 1st episode demonstrate how Edward Barnays managed his knowledge of the American population to exercise control over their desires.
politics of affects


space of flows (p.158)

Borrowing the term "space of flow" from Castells to characterize the current city, as exiting more in flows rather than places; the flow of capital, information, technology, images and symbols; Lyon refers to this as the space when power is organized. In this spatiality, control doesn't no imply physical proximity, but can be applied remotely.


'Whereas once surveillance in the city meant ... to keep a watch and to contain deviance, in now also means keeping tabs, including camera images, on the population at large. Is not that older methods are simply superseded, but that new ones are superimpose.'(p.158)

Surveillance and violence in the city (p.159-160)

(not very developed, but with some interesting point to think about


Surveillance as social sorting (p.168)

Surveillance system classifies and sorts people into categories, this process leads to a deeper segmentation of society. Surveillance is interested more in the differences than the common aspects between individuals.

How can such system promote less violence in a city if, in order to be effective, if it has to emphasis the differences between individuals rather than their understanding?

In this climate some can pay to be surveilled against the others and fell safe. The others that cannot afford feel unsafe and see themselves as the enemy, those from who the rich have to protect from.

Inequity and ignorance towards the other generate violence, which in turn in fought through more punitive and panoptic measures.


'If surveillance does not actually create inequalities in the city, it certainly tends to reinforce or accentuate them. The city in which mobility is high, where strangers encounter each other, can be a place of stimulation, of excitement and of the cross fertilization of costumes, styles, ideas and practices. But it is also a place of potential danger ... The capacity to cope with difference is challenged in the city ... The society of strangers, accentuated in the city, was for [George] Simmel a situation in which relationships could both flourish and fragment' (p.168)

The difficulty to address these issues comes from the fact that surveillance is a mode of social orchestration that works only according to utilitarian norms, and no standards of morality of justice, it tends to bypass the language of justice.

It works by means of sorting mechanisms that are just that - mechanisms, that excluded personal responsibility, personal involvement and moral judgments.

They create a personae that affects the lives of the corresponding human beings