Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hidden camera settles the age old question - Who ate my lunch?!

This week I had an interesting experience that echoes what we were talking about several weeks ago with screens everywhere and increasing surveillance. I intern at a production company in Santa Monica. We share a beautiful, expensive office building with several other production companies, and we have a communal kitchen that's stocked with lots of high-end, communal snacks. People also bring their own things like Odwalla that they store in the refrigerator with their names written all over them.

Someone must dipped into someone else's private food, because when I went into the kitchen this week, I noticed something strange hidden in the back of a shelf of chips. It was a tiny, HD camera mounted up on old bags of honey-roasted peanuts. It was at the perfect angle to capture the refrigerator at all times.

Because this is a building full of production companies, I guess it makes sense that an expensive, HD camera and hours of continuous footage to sift through seems like an easier way of solving this problem than just talking with your fellow office mates and appealing to common decency. But common decency is boring, whereas catching a lying Odwalla thief in action with the video evidence to prove it is so much more exciting. Technology has given us a way to, not only enforce morality, but publicly shame those who transgress. It reminds me of this article in Gawker about public shaming for Twitter transgressions.

On an unrelated note, I'm drinking less Odwalla lately.


  1. Hey Helen

    Your story is really thought provoking, especially since you noticed the camera was silently added into the fridge and not installed from the beginning. It brings up a lot of questions about consent; is it fair for our workplaces to be filming us at all times? We can make the argument that certain cameras might be useful for security reasons (outside the front of the building, or maybe in key locations near registers, etc) but to install a camera in a refrigerator seems like overreach, especially if the employees have not been informed about it beforehand. I wonder how many of the employees at your production company would actually consent to placing cameras in the fridge if they were asked about it prior to the installation? Have we all grown so accustomed to being monitored that we no longer care if we are being filmed?

  2. Your question of consent is really interesting, especially because these folks all work at production companies, so they've all worked with the "consent to be filmed" releases we have to get all our talent to sign before they can be filmed. Granted, those are for videos being made for commercial exploitation, but that's just one aspect of the release. The most basic aspect is quite literally the consent to let someone else capture your image in any type of electronic format.