Over the past couple of weeks, Google has gotten repeated bloody noses from tech journalists over theBuzz debacle. Before Buzz, Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” philosophy was backed up by a lot of carefully thought-out and well-executed applications. By comparison, Buzz was so uncharacteristically tone-deaf that people went from 0 to “conspiracy theory” in 60 seconds. Personally, I think Buzz was an honest mistake from a company that skews young, and young people are notorious for beinglaissez faire about privacy concerns.

Buzz is a symptom. The disease is the social media panopticon. Since Jeremy Bentham posited it as the ideal architecture for guarding inmates, the panopticon has been a popular stand-in for the all-seeing eye of the state (just Google “UK and panopticon” to see this dead horse beaten into fine dust). But the rolling media freakouts aboutFacebook picture tagging have illustrated that the bogeyman isn’t the government. It’sus watching us. We are the panopticon, man! Soylent green is people!

I wasn’t always like this. Once upon a time, friends would try to spook me with tales ofCarnivore orTotal Information Awareness, and my response was essentially, “make my day, punks!” Visions of airless basements filled my head, hapless poindexters drowning under unceasing floods ofinformation overload.

Continues @ http://spectrum.ieee.org