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Caught Napping

Each and every day, it is becoming more and more difficult for one to have his or her privacy. It is also becoming more and more difficult for one to DECIDE whether or not what they do is private. Pam and Tommy Lee made their own decision when they asked the question “Should we videotape this?? But as we move into the future of digital photography, we move into an age where even the most amateur photographers can take high-quality snapshots of anyone’s lives.

This issue has been brought to light by the recent inauguration photo in which Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is caught apparently napping during President Barack Obama’s speech (I will come back to why I say “apparently? in a little bit). Technologies like Google Earth are making it possible, even easy, to capture images of anyone, anytime, and during any sort of embarrassing act. This is a clear invasion of privacy. This is the ultimate advancement for “Peeping Toms?, who no longer need to climb trees with their binoculars to sneak a peek at the hot girl next door. Now, I’m not one to speak for others and their life experiences, but I know there have been occasions where I’ve woken up in the morning, needed to get the paper, and not wanted to go through the hard work of trying to pull pants on while still being half asleep. As a result of my early-morning-uncoordination, I’ve gone outside in nothing but my skivvies to retrieve my paper; this is not something I want people to see (the fact that other people don’t want to see it notwithstanding). However, if for some inexplicable reason someone out there wanted to photograph this event, perhaps for blackmail purposes, they could do exactly that!

There is an article posted TODAY by FOXNews.com that tells a story involving Nathan Smith and Google Earth. Smith, a musician from Los Angeles, read a book chronicling the story of a lost treasure ship that sank somewhere north of Corpus Christi, Texas. While looking around on his computer he saw an intriguing pattern close to the town and drove there from his home in LA to find the treasure. The owners of the land weren’t too keen on a stranger digging up their land. Now, this case will go before many courts before being settled, but the principle of Nathan’s use of his computer to find treasure is what is important. Using programs like Google Earth to look anywhere, anytime, and for anything is sickeningly invasive. For each story involving a man innocently looking for lost treasure, I wouldn’t want to even guess how many untold, probably unknown, stories there are of people utilizing this technology for their own perversions.

The other issue I have with this new photographic device is that pictures in no well tell the entire story and situation behind the moment they capture. As mentioned earlier, this entire topic was recently made popular by the photo of Clarence Thomas apparently sleeping during Barack Obama’s speech at his inauguration. The picture shows Clarence with his eyes closed; could he not have just had them closed so that he could better absorb the momentous occasion he was witnessing? Or simply had his eyes closed just for a moment that was unfortunately photographed? Regardless of the reason, sleeping or otherwise, the point needs to be made that nobody aside from Clarence himself knows. One photo does not tell the entire story, or even part of it aside from one instant. When this type of photography is used, it is of utmost importance that one remembers that.

I am not going to suggest that things this method of photography should be outlawed; I know that there are many practical and important uses for it. However, it does need to be used with discretion. I just hope that no pictures of almost-naked me grabbing my newspaper wind up on the internet.


I agree with your position on developing photography technology being creepy, but it is in our human nature to constantly be curious with human life, and what everyone else is doing. The tabloids and teenybopper magazines are a drug for us, and even if someone wanted to try and stop us from being constantly recorded they could not. It’s a national obsession that will keep getting worse, George Orwell and Aldous Huxley both called it in their futuristic novels with Big Brother following us around.
I think the big problem with digital photography becoming so widespread is the different interpretations that are brought to a photograph, which is the basis for most of the National Inquirer. We see these mutilated, edited photographs and take them to be real, and we decide to believe them. We can’t put all the blame on the photographers, or amateur photographers, for taking the photograph and publishing it since we are the ones demanding for celebrity constant surveillance and choose to believe that an alien baby was born, or that Clarence Thomas fell asleep during Obama's inauguration speech. He could have easily been blinking or looking down, we read all about this in those series of articles for class from Errol Morris’s blog. He states, “Photographs are neither true nor false in and of themselves. They are only true or false with respect to statements that we make about them or the questions that we ask of them.? So even if you were to walk outside in your regular clothes, the photograph could be edited to be seen differently.

I think you make a valid argument regarding people using new technology to please themselves. However, I believe Google Earth is a tool that is not used for this kind of behavior. First, it would be impossible to attempt to track anyone using this tool because the photographs are not in real time. In fact, some locations appear to be unchanged in years. According to Mike Sachoff, a reason why the images are not in real time is because “it is expensive to purchase quality aerial imagery.” If someone sat down at their computer and attempted to search an address of an old friend, odds are that they might not even reside in the house that emerges.

I agree with your assessment that it was highly possible that the photo taken was just taken at an inexplicable time, as you mentioned he might have been in contemplation. I would just like to add to that point that they chose one photo out of numerous ones to criticize. It could have been very possible that a picture taken was of him rejoicing and on his feet. Why was this potential photo not considered? Why did this certain photograph which could have had no negative implications chosen? I believe that journalists were trying to create controversy and were attempting to get people to discuss an issue.

Works Cited

“It is becoming more and more difficult for one to have his or her privacy”- true, but think about it in the big scheme of things. Pam and Tommy Lee may have decided at one point what they wanted to make public, but their permission is not asked every time a photo or story about them is published. The same goes for any other celebrity. I agree with the fact that it is really hard for people to protect their privacy and I know firsthand how frustrating that is, however I still find myself wondering what the latest gossip is about my favorite actor or musical group, and better yet, spend way too much time ‘creeping’ on Facebook checking my friend’s profile updates so I know what is going on and what they are doing.

In society today, nearly everyone has a Facebook or MySpace page, a Blog, a cell phone, camera etc. Everything is visible to any and everybody that wants to see it thanks to the Internet and new-fangled technology. The photo of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas napping (or not, for the sake of the argument) may be embarrassing but he was out in public at one of the biggest events of the year; of course there are going to be photographers and reporters looking for something that will make their audience talk. Everybody, famous or not, gives up their privacy when they are out in public. Photographers may abuse their privileges by twisting the picture to mean whatever they want and if that is the case in the photo of Justice Thomas, then that is bad luck, however it is bound to happen to everyone at one point or another. If you do not want people to see you a certain way or doing a certain thing, do it in the vicinity of your house. If the cameras start going in there, then we might have a problem.

I agree on how picture’s are fake at time and your background of it. But I do not share the same opinions about Google Earth just because I have been a user of this since middle school. Google Earth is a tool that offers maps and satellite images for people who are traveling or simply for students that want to learn more about the earth. The map pictures were satellite taken, but they are not present up to date snapshots. People go on Google Earth just to see and observe the world, not for stalkering purposes; I do not think that would be possible.
But the main idea that I totally agreed with was photographers taking pictures of people and turning something innocent, to something horrible that could make the news. Tommy Lee and Pamela’s sex tape, yes that is pure evidence that the world can watch. But taking a picture of Clarence Thomas being caught “napping” during Obama’s inauguration speech, can be fake. A photographer could have easily been taking pictures and caught that picture at the right moment. A person caught on photos with their eyes closed happens all the time; I have had bad photos and wondered how things have gotten in the picture or how people’s eyes are closed in the pictures. It is a picture that a photographer took and made it a photo of shame, of disrespect of Thomas “sleeping” through Obama’s speech; simply for people to argue about or to make judgments about the picture. Unless it is not a full caught video, a picture should not be taken so seriously. I agree with your back up for your points on you position statement.

Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass' favor.