LIS 694
Discussion Questions for Lyon

  1. On page 3 of his Introduction to Surveillance society: monitoring everyday life Lyon gives this definition of surveillance:

    "... any collection and processing of personal data, whether identifiable or not, for the purposes of influencing or managing those whose data have been garnered."

    Having read chapter 1 of Surveillance after September 11 do you feel that the definition above still stands?
  2. On page 3 of Surveillance society Lyon talks about the dual nature of "watching over" someone. Library systems now offer the option of creating patron profiles in order to help us better provide information resources appropriate to a user's needs. Is there another potential use for this data? Should we be concerned about this?
  3. On page 7 of Surveillance society Lyon writes that "few people feel constrained, let alone controlled, by surveillant regimes." On page 23 of Surveillance after September 11 he states that "Surveillance is practiced with a view to enhancing efficiency, productivity, participation, welfate, health, or safety. Sheer social control is seldom a motivation for installing surveillance systems even though that may be an unintended or secondary consequence of their deployment."

    Part of downtown Honolulu was declared a "weed and seed" district. As a part of this project cameras were installed along the streets. The hope was that persons in the district would cease illegal activities such as drug trafficking in view of the cameras. Does this reflect or refute Lyon's statement? Does this in any way relate to your understanding of Jeremy Bentham's panopticon?
  4. On page 19 of Surveillance after September 11 Lyon talks about Thomas Mathiesen's description of the "synopticon." And on page 21 Lyon talks about "scopophilia." Since Lyon wrote his book in 2003 have these tendencies increased or decreased, in your opinion? Please elaborate.
  5. On page 31 of Surveillance after September 11 Lyon begins his discussion of Deleuze and Guatarri's rhizomic network of searchable databases. In the following pages he notes that the centralized power of the nation state is able to co-opt this assemblage of databases for "conventional 'strong state' purposes." As information professionals are our systems part of the rhizomic structure of databases that can be used to exert the power of the state? Is there a way in which we can be a counterbalancing force?

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