Thursday, August 30, 2007

Citizen as 'sampling' of the person

"You might be a person, but you are not a citizen until you are recorded in a database". This notion of citizen as a 'sampling' of the person is in some ways frightening: we are viewed as bits of data with a prescribed set of acceptable actions, all of which can be mapped in a database. Even unacceptable actions, like crime. In fact, criminal acts themselves are the target of certain crime databases, and the actors themselves, while of course responsible (if we follow Camus), are not the true subject of inquiry. Kurgan argues that we need to look at where the bad guys live so that we may re-focus the enormous stream of resources into improving those zones of dense criminal habitation. Perhaps they only become criminals because we deprive them of the necessary infrastructure to remain as "acceptable" bits of data.

Corner might say that the extraction of prisoners' addresses in the migration maps is a bit limited in scope--we know so little about who is going to prison, or for how long, or why they are migrating. (In some way could the map be more like the map of Napoleon's army, more temporal in nature) Hence the plotting, while initially fantastic in seeing all these little threads dispersed across NY and tied to these blocks of land in Brooklyn, tell a one-liner story, which I don't think is fair to the author's intent.

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