When Jeremy Bentham came up with the idea of the Panopticon, and much later when Michel Foucault described the gradual, accretive creation of a “panoptic society,” many of us thought that this would necessarily happen through the expansion of governmental infrastructure. How else could it happen? Well, it turns out that the business world has provided the infrastructure, perhaps for its own purposes, but in ways that government can use.

There’s something satisfying about this development — in this case anyway — as people discover that they have ways to participate in the clean-up of their community, in more ways than one.  But there’s also something obviously scary about it.

And that’s the way it goes: wherever our burgeoning information technologies touch our lives, they magnify, dramatically, already existing tendencies. It would be a mistake to think only about what’s cool in that or what’s disturbing. It’s cool and disturbing alternately, or all at once. If you’re feeling disoriented by these magnifications, get used to it. There’s a lot more where that came from.