Spying – A True British Legacy

The total feel good factor that has washed across the country in the last 2 weeks of Olympics has been breathtaking. We all rose to the challenge, the return of British pride (which I touched upon previously) appeared like a wave from nowhere and the sheer enthusiasm and commitment shown by the Games Makers really did make it feel like ‘the People’s Games’.

One issue though which dampened my spirits slightly was the UK’s obsession with spying. How did LOCOG (London Olympic Games Organising Committee) manage to plonk 83 Wenlock and Mandeville ‘one-eyed’ mascots at key places around London (as part of a new ‘discovery’ trail to promote the Games) with their cool design features of friendship bands in Olympic colours (very sweet) and of large one-eyes – hidden cameras which ‘lets Wenlock record everything’?    London has already taken the Gold in being the most surveilled city of the industrialised western states – surely this one was just a step too far?  Apparently not.

But perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised.  After all, it was the UK who thought up this type of spying in the first place:

From an article ‘Use of the Camera Obscura in The Glasgow Mechanics’ Magazine, no. XXXII, 1824:

‘An occurence originated in a Camera Obscura exhibited here during Fair week, which shows the important use to which the amusing optical apparatus may be applied.  A person happened to be examining, with great interest, the various lively and ever shifting figures which were pourtrayed upon the white tablet during the exhibition, when he beheld, with amazement, the appearance of one man picking another man’s pocket….  From this circumstance, the utility of placing such apparatus in all places of public amusement and exhibitions, must be obvious.  Whether it might be proper to erect it in the streets of a populous city like this, and to place it under the inspection of an officer for the detection of mischief and crime, is a matter worthy of the consideration of the local authorities..’

I was going to end this post with a link to my favourite bit of the Games – a video from the Opening Ceremony secretly filmed by one of the volunteers eye wasthere as he entered the show as a member of the cast of the Industrial Revolution / Pandaemonium section.  It summed up the whole spirit of the People’s Games perfectly.  Unfortunately LOCOG, in its determined spirit of monitoring any online content filmed by the People at the Games has decided to take it down… Sorry about that  as LOCOG says.

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