Sunday, 11 November 2007

Word of the day

Todays word is panopticonic, and thank you to The Economist for this recent coinage. In an article on 1 November about the views of the British prime minister, Gordon Brown, on the role of the state, the journal refers to "Britain's near-panopticonic system of surveillance and daunting DNA database." To this it is proposed to add a system of national identity cards.

The word is the adjectival form of panopticon, defined in the Wikipedia as deriving from a type of prison building proposed by the philosopher Jeremy Bentham. In it, prisoners could be observed without being able to tell whether they were being observed, thus conveying "a sentiment of invisible omniscience." Our own more modest version, to be applied in this institution (and in a growing number of other public places) has no such aspiration; unfortunately, we lack the resources for real omniscience.

1 comment:

Norma said...

Keep up the good work.