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Be careful, someone is watching

Published July 12. 2014 09:00AM

When I was a teenager, my friends had a nickname for my mother.

They called her radar ears.

She did, indeed, seem to have radar ears. She was strict with me and liked it best when I was within eyesight.

So my friends would hang out with me across the street from my house, where we could be seen but not heard.

Every now and then a friend would get the idea we should all go to the local pizza shop. This would be discussed in a low voice so no one could hear.

But before I could make a decision, my mother would open a second-story window and yell: "Don't even think about going to the pizza shop."

We never knew how she had such supersonic hearing. Or, maybe it was ESP. At any rate, I couldn't get away with anything.

When I did manage to be miles away from my mother, she had an Italian posse to keep watch on me. That posse was better known as her sisters.

They were the eyes and ears of the world certainly of my world, much to my dismay.

One summer day while I was loading up on books at the library, a cute guy offered to walk me home, a walk of about a mile or two.

Before I got home, my Aunt Theresa was on the telephone to my mother, telling her I just left the library with a boy. How she knew that is beyond me.

Another time after school a boy in the next grade offered to teach me to drive.

Well, sure. What could be the harm in that?

Of course I was forbidden to get in a car with boys. But surely learning to drive in the afternoon didn't count, right? I wouldn't even have to mention it to my mom.

As soon as I got home, she was on the warpath. Why did I disobey and get in a boy's car?

My Aunt Marg, who lived 12 miles from us, saw me and called my mom.

Growing up, I was a super good kid. I'm not sure if it was because I wanted to be good or because I couldn't get away with anything. Maybe a little bit of both.

Well, look out, kids. Technology is going to spy on you. It's going to spy on everyone, even when you least expect it. And that technology is much more invasive than my mom's posse of sisters.

Now the whole world can watch what you do, whether you like it or not.

An interesting story in this week's Wall Street Journal reports that Google is now offering something called Livestream video sharing.

Anyone who ponies up $399 a month can wear Google Glasses that have a little camera on the side.

When a user says "OK, Glass, start broadcasting," the camera will broadcast on the Web everything it sees.

Think about the ramifications in that.

Kids out partying will be on the Web for the world to see.

Adults who like their privacy won't have a choice if they are "shot" in a life broadcast.

Aldous Huxley talked about a Brave New World. With "new" as the operative word, new technology is about to change lives in a major way.

Last week in our little town, a car plowed into a bicyclist riding on the pavement. The driver of the car had no defense because witnesses pulled out their cellphone cameras and captured it all for police.

When I see stories like that, I often wonder how people just happened to have their cameras aimed there.

In another case, a boat took on water, and three people ended up in the river while they waited for rescue. That video was also recorded by someone who just happened to see it and have a cellphone video.

When I am working for the newspaper, I frequently have to photograph groups doing an activity. Last week I photographed a yoga class.

But before I took one picture, I announced I was taking photos for the newspaper and said anyone who didn't want to be photographed should let me know. Some did, and I respected their privacy.

That won't be the case with a Google Glass Livestream video.

Smile, you're on camera, whether you want to be or not.

Imagine the repercussions for celebrities and for professional entertainment acts. Most acts bar cameras and few allow videos.

Some entertainers are downright ferocious about guarding their image, careful about what the public gets to see. That control is about to go out the window.

Many years ago I was enamored with the country group Alabama. When they were appearing close to us, I called in advance to request a newspaper interview.

My request was granted and the interview went fairly well until I said I wanted to take a photo of the group. I needed to take it before the show because no cameras were allowed in the auditorium.

The Alabama musicians absolutely refused to pose for a photo. "We carefully control our image," said one member. "Why should we let anyone else profit from our photos?"

They refused to accept my plea that I wasn't trying to sell their photo. I just needed it for my story.

That marked the last time I listened to Alabama.

Well, look out, a new world is here a new world that will affect all of us.

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