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Passage Analysis - 1984 - Nick Leiper

on Mon Nov 06, 2017 2:45 am
In 1786, British philosopher Jeremy Bentham travelled to White Russia, now known as Belarus, with his brother Samuel. His brother, who managed various industrial projects in the region, envisioned a new kind of factory floor that would cut down on costs and increase productivity, and Bentham, fascinated by the concept, attempted to apply it to prisons. These prisons were simple in design. The "Panopticon", as it was called, would be circular and a tall watchtower would stand in its centre. A single a guard could gaze into any prisoner's cell at any moment. However, it would be impossible for a prisoner to tell which cell was being watched. Consequently, a prisoner would have to be on their best behaviour at all times.


This brings me to my passage;
"There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."


The similarities between Bentham's Panopticon and Orwell's surveillance state are nearly self evident. In fact, it is almost as though Orwell's telescreens represent a nation wide Panopticon. While Bentham's prisoners could not see their keepers, knowing only that they were there and that they could hypothetically be watching all of them at any given moment, the people of Oceania cannot tell who amongst them was being watch, knowing only that someone could be watching.

In my opinion, this furthers the notion that knowledge is power, a theme presented throughout 1984. While the historical revisionism practiced by the government makes it nearly impossible for Oceanians to have unbiased thought, this surveillance system makes it impossible for them act freely. In other words, the government knows more about the people then the people know about the government. As such the government has power over the people since the people must always assume someone is waiting to punish them for any illegal activities. This same theme is developed when Orwell describes the absence of codified laws.
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Re: Passage Analysis - 1984 - Nick Leiper

on Sat Nov 11, 2017 8:06 pm
Cool analysis Nicholas! I had never heard about the Panopticon beforehand, but it sure is similar to the spooky telescreens. Another device similar to the telescreens that came to my mind are surveillance cameras, which these days can be found in pretty much every public building. You can't be certain which surveillance footage the security guard is looking at, so you assume they're looking at you. It's crazy how a book written over half a century ago managed to not only capture the world of that time, but partially the world of today, in which public surveillance continues to increase.
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Re: Passage Analysis - 1984 - Nick Leiper

on Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:40 pm
Great analysis Nic! I like that you used pictures to present your main ideas. I also like how you gave context before presenting your quotation.

During one of the presentations yesterday, of of the teams brought up Smart TV as an example of government surveillance in private residences. Samsung's is among the many companies that were critized for their always-on voice policy. The policy states : "Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.".

I felt this device is similar to telescreens as they can hear what you are saying while your watching TV. It is a scary thought that you could be reprimended for things you say in your own home!
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- Bea (:

Source : - https://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/09/if-you-have-a-smart-tv-take-a-closer-look-at-your-privacy-settings.html

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Re: Passage Analysis - 1984 - Nick Leiper

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