Mobile Phones and Cameras – Evidence of Social Change in Taipei

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I’ve been meaning to share this since I first saw these panoramas a little over a week ago. Go to the Panoramas.dk, a truly wonderful site, and have a look at the panoramas for Taipei City on News Years Eve 2005. These pictures are great pieces of evidence of social change on a grand scale.
On New Years Eve 2005 the shopping centers and department stores in the Hsinyi district of Taipei extended their hours, keeping the area lit, for the reported 400,000 people who were present to watch the spectacular fireworks display coming from the Taipei 101 building. I really wish I could have been there.
What is remarkable about these images, and the panoramas are nice in their own right, is how it illustrates something in which we take part in and witness on a daily basis – but we never see it to this scale or degree. A high percentage of the people in the image are all recording the event via their pocket sized or cell phone digital cameras. Technology in this case has become a remarkable enabler, allowing a large group of people to record a special moment in their lives and potentially sharing instantly with an expotentially larger group of people via mms, services like Flickr, blogs, and old fashioned in person photo sharing.
This is pretty special and powerful. If the services remain available and open it goes beyond simply recording and sharing special events. The people become the big brother watching over the “powers that be” with the ability to record and report transgressions – that’s allot of eyes on the ground.
None of this new of course. It’s just seeing it on this scale that blew me away.
It’s a terribly academic sounding title – it’s all that came to mind at the moment.