On the 19th June 2009 I found myself standing before an audience at the inaugural AUPOV09 Conference held in Wollongong, NSW Australia as convenor and workshop presenter. In the workshop I explained in detail how I could foresee the use of body worn camera technologies as a means to capturing first person perspective and transferring onto others as knowledge via a digital format.
The conference brought together all the key stakeholders we were working with at the time including the police, military, navy, emergency services, private investigators, trades, social services, training etc. and showcase where we had come from and hopefully as an innovations rich outfit, where we were heading to. The purpose of running the AUPOV09 conference therefore was to bring together all those key stakeholders who had an interest in wearable technology with a specific focus on the body worn camera. We imported, sold and serviced organisations with LiquidImage, Vio, Pivothead, ContourHD, GoPro, MV-100, P-923, SmartCam, E-witness to name just a few of the products we stocked and supported.
Many of those who attended were closely aligned with our product sales, technical training and foundation ’Streamfolio’ platform which provided users with a capture, upload, describe, share and download capacity. I had taken my very early aspirations to using body worn camera in a learning and vocational training industry setting and created an educational technology company called EDUPOV Pty Ltd, later renamed as Streamfolio Pty Ltd.
I was encouraged by a colleague to invite Associate Professor Tony Herrington, Dr M.G. Michael and Dr Katina Michael from the University of Wollongong to present
My prior knowledge of M.G and Katina was minimal so I put a number of nights into searching through everything I could find about these people, their research and the seemingly unending connections they had in the information technology, education, engineering, information systems, national security, policing, law. I was particularly intrigued with the papers that M.G. and Katina had written regarding the concept of ‘Uberveillance’ which I was later to become closely aligned to in thinking, inquiry and even in my dream state at night.
The University of Wollongong produced and published a media release shortly after the conference with a title of
“Point of View” Technologies for the Education Sector
"...The event brought together delegates representative of private, enterprise, community and government registered training organisations, including the Australian Navy, Australian Armed Forces, University of Wollongong, University of New South Wales, commercial publishers, educational consultancy, medical training, POV manufacturing and retail distribution.
The focus of the conference was relating the use of point-of-view technologies with that of its applied use in an educational training and assessment context. A number of speakers also referenced these technologies in the wider social, cultural and ethical paradigms. Associate Professor Tony Herrington spoke on the topic of Mobile Learning at UOW with the possibility of offering subjects related to issues with emerging technologies in adult education completely using mobile devices, such as mobile smart phones.
Tony presented on the findings of the recent project he was a lead collaborator on titled The New Technologies, New Pedagogies which investigated and created new teaching and learning strategies using mobile technologies. The full report can be accessed by visiting http://mlearning.uow.edu.au/
Dr MG and Katina Michael presented a plenary session on Teaching Ethics Using Wearable Computing and the Social Implications of the New ‘Veillance’. The discussion focused on how technologies such as global positioning data loggers could be used to facilitate learning in the information and communications technology curriculum on the potential ethical issues arising from emerging location based services within a social networking context."
The UOW academics then joined in a dynamic panel discussion with keynote Allison Miller, director of HelmetCams Mr Matt Fitzhardinge, international speaker Ms Toni Twiss, and Robyn Jay from the University of New South Wales.”
In total 125 AUPOV09 delegates attended, interested in the use of body worn camera technologies coined in the media release as “point-of-view” and yet upon deeper inquiry, as a result of those attending it brought me to an awareness of the enormity of research already underway in the domain of wearable computing.
Associate Professor Katina Michael took to the plenary position with a force and fortitude which now in retrospect is a core reason why I have chosen focus my research study on the potential and actual socio-ethical impacts these wearable and other related technologies are having upon humanity. I recall after hearing Katina’s points on how important it was to consider the social impacts of these technologies from a privacy a wider societal impact perspective feeling deeply troubled.
On the spot I made a decision, which in hindsight is all I wish this PhD to elucidate for others and that is I made a decision based on my gut instinct.
The decision I made was to confront Katina and her husband M.G.Michael on the spot at the conclusion of the presentation.
“....thank you for your presentation Katina. I have one question which I don't seek an answer from you immediately yet I feel instinctively compelled to ask you now...would you be my PhD supervisor as I am interested in completing a PhD research study in this area of wearable technology?”
I learned later that despite my excitement the question had been met with a resounding ‘no’ which had me doggedly pursue an affirmative ‘yes’.
What triggered my interest and piqued my curiosity is that Katina had in her prior communications with me pointed me to a number of online resources in her field of research endeavour that I had had considered many times in my daily philosophical ramblings but not found a voice for in my professional actions.
I recall thinking at that time “…how does a single person somehow change my thinking enough to consider what the impacts will be that are perhaps detrimental to who we are selling this gear too?” I hadn’t at that time given it much thought as to what the potential benefits, risk or harm may be in any depth and yet with this one encounter I’d been triggered to not only think of the socio-technical capacities and capabilities of technology but to consider it with ethics in mind.
The conference had a range of breakout sessions within which I’d had a chance to speak to a range of technologies that I’d been testing in Australia Flexible Learning Framework (AFLF) projects for a number of years prior, in an industry context, in a workforce capacity context. These were largely removed from any domain of critical inquiry beyond reporting on the incremental uptake of the technology, its ability to engage learners…the value it had in reducing time spend, money spend and essentially profit making by employers or the educational institutions themselves. Although I’d read many papers on the strength based inquiry methodology of workforce capacity building this was the first I’d come across where ethics and the broader social impact had arisen as a focus for inquiry.
The PhD application took almost a fortnight of solid writing and a month prior of reading to bring into shape. I recall numerous attempts at drafting where I thought the research study was to go only to find in reading through many differing thesis examples there was a tried and tested formulae. As the application provides irrefutable evidence of the naive beginnings even the title suggests that the outposts of the thesis would hinge on one sector of enquiry which I was to find is the start of the inquiry and by no means its definitive totality.
Download the main AUPOV presentation [ PDF ]
Download Katina Michael's presentation [ PDF ]
Download AUPOV Booking Form [ PDF ]
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Access UOW Media Release [ HTML ]
Access original UOW website for event [ HTML ]
Access podcast of AUPOV Event [ HTML ]