Neighborhood Watch

[Image: Doorbell camera footage is already media content].

It was only a matter of time before this happened: Amazon’s camera-enabled Ring doorbell service has been looking for a “news editor,” implying that the Internet of Things—the immersive world of ubiquitously online surveillance objects we have willingly surrounded ourselves by—might someday find an editorial voice.

A doorbell company wants to report crime news,” NiemanLab reported back in April.

As a brief aside, that article goes on to make an extreme non sequitur, claiming that, because crime is decreasing in the United States, crime news should be less interesting to American viewers (one might suggest the exact opposite, in fact, that the rarer crime becomes the more interesting its occurrence will be—there has never been a murder in our town often translates directly into more people hoping to learn about a murder when one finally occurs).

In any case, the Internet of Things is like a vast, distributed media-production apparatus, putting microphones in our cars and kitchens, cameras in our doorbells and children’s toys, and sensors of every kind in our TVs, phones, watches, refrigerators, lightbulbs, and thermostats, to name but a few.

The idea that all this would someday be absorbed into the content industry—someday mined for unscripted media shows—has been an obvious possibility from the very beginning, just one updated end-user agreement away from realization. Watching content produced by other people’s doorbell cameras sounds both inevitable and, in a sense, quite tame. To no small extent it has already happened, and it will only get stranger from here.

3 thoughts on “Neighborhood Watch”

  1. I was looking for the last story, but was surprised to see many other examples of similar stories:

    Ring doorbell video captures man kidnapping 8-year-old girl https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yPVPhlZjDk

    Woman found, suspect at large after doorbell video captures alleged abduction
    https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/woman-found-suspect-at-large-after-doorbell-video-captures-alleged-abduction-1.4066861
    https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/man-charged-in-connection-with-richmond-hill-abduction-caught-on-video-1.4084571

    Terrifying video of a Texas woman’s kidnapping was captured by a Ring video doorbell, and it helped police arrest the suspect
    https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-ring-video-captures-texas-woman-kidnapping-2019-6

    Mystery Montgomery Co. woman captured in chilling doorbell camera reveals escape details on ‘Inside Edition’
    https://abc13.com/mystery-doorbell-ringer-reveals-identity-and-how-she-escaped/4266263/

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