An Inside Look at Privacy

It's no wonder that 'privacy' is among the most popular tags for users of the social bookmarking site The increasing use of surveillance technologies ranging from security cameras to consumer profiling, and RFID tags to telecommunications eavesdropping techniques has placed the question of privacy at the forefront of contemporary political debates. But the bigger question is of the relationship between surveillance and web 2.0 services; particularly social networking sites. That is to say, the same people who make sites like work are caught up in a web of self-surveillance that is indicative of a larger cultural/ political phenomenon. Enter Ars Electronica. Every September, for over 25 years, the Linz, Austria-based new media art center has organized one of the most important international conferences focused on art and technology. Each year includes an academic conference, in tandem with a major art festival and a series of very ambitious public installations. These are always focused around a particular pressing theme and this year's is, not surprisingly, 'Goodbye Privacy.' From September 5-11, dozens of artists, critics, scholars, and media activists will gather to comment not only on the increasingly pervasive threat to privacy, in contemporary culture, but also on the ways that this notion is represented in contemporary art. If you're at all interested in intersections of art, politics, and technology, make your plans now to sneak away to Austria. - Marisa Olson