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Series No. 08



A red belt covered the whole screen.

That was four summers ago. He was at the center of the media attraction as the suspect for the murder of his entire family. People were following his every move through the surveillance cameras. He was supposed to have strong connections with central asia, and the Police was extremely hesitant, but when they finally took action, the suspect turned around right in front of his house and ran.

All of Japan was following the running suspect through the surveillance camera. TVs just redirected the signals from the surveillance cameras. The police also depended on the surveillance camera data, trying to close in. And that was when it happened.

Many people thought it was another network glitch. Or some bad connections in the monitor. When the red belt went away, he was gone already.

It's still not clear what this actually was. Some trick on the suspects' side, or did the police make a mistake trying to shake off all the sightseeing groups? Police seems likely, since similar accidents happened when VIPs were in Japan.

Web cameras were nothing new. It's been around since the beginning of the web near the end of last century. Initially, they were more of a joke, watching coffee pots and coke machines. But it took a whole new meaning with the opening of the Second Tokyo-Nagoya Expressway in 2023 (significantly behind schedule). surveillance cameras that were installed every 500m (for safety purposes, yer right), were all connected to the Net with the New Information Access Law coming into effect. The cameras were soon installed on other roads including regular ones, all of them being freely accessible. Many restaurants and stores actually paid to have a camera installed showing their outlet, and privately installed cameras have become rather popular. Any road, any crossing, and therefore almost any building can now be observed by anyone, anytime. With this many cameras, even the IP address of IPV6 may run out pretty soon. People would watch deserted crossings, or some back alleys at night, just watching people go by through the streaming data from cameras. No more reporters and camera crews for TV stations, either. The surveillance cameras were always faster, more accurate and with better angles.

This incident, however, marked a new era. Now it became apparent to everyone that you could actually screw the data from these cameras. Talks about privacy resumed, and soon, some privately installed cameras started offering masking services. If you don't want your building (or parts of it) shown, you could pay to have it masked.

Masking techniques made rapid progress. You can mask extremely finely defined part of the camera signal. Wierd places that are masked, such as under the stairways, are said to be locations for drug deals and smoking. And recently, you really don't see masks that look like real masks. They look more like something natural, using sophisticated cg juxtaposing.

Today, the view through the surveillance cameras and the actual view has become totally different. The building here has been going through renovation for five years through the cameras, but in real life, it hasn't had any renovation for more than 20 years. Some buildings rent out their walls within the camera view for advertizing. Now, when you see the city through the Net cameras, it is a flood of buildings covered with animated advertizing, with covered-up cars running in front of them. Reminds you of a scene from that classic movie Blade Runner.

Last month, I took my grandfather to Zambia (or he dragged me, to be precise. Unlike the old time hard core backpacker like my grandfather, I'm not much into traveling to these backwater countries.) It's already near mid 21st century, and they still don't have proper Net connection. And as for TV, only one channel from Japan, and its programs are sort of old NHK type stuff before they were privatized --- the guys that were layed off are still complaining about the evils of commercialization, and that it's the end of journalism as we know it. I wonder what it is about journalism that we are supposed to have known, my grandfather laughs.

Midnight. After 2300 when the programs are over, the channel broadcasts a Nothing is happening there. Once in a while, a car comes by, stops at a red light flashing a right winker. And then it runs off.

Wow, like the Net in the old days, my grandfather said.

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