Monday 22 July 2013

charm-offensive or eye in the sky

While I do not think an adopt-a-drone programme would necessarily change public attitudes towards surveillance and not confuse security with protection and prevention as a civic cause—and perhaps we were not among those early hobbists who experimented with that first wave of spin-offs, playing with our new toy, a surprisingly robust but demanding in terms of navigation helicopter with a tee-tiny video camera (high-definition nonetheless) is proving to be a lot of fun and thought-provoking, given what we're capability of doing, with a bit of practice. It is scary to think what a skilled pilot with a greater budget of duty to inform might accomplish. It was also strange that we started learning how to operate the model just as the hearings into the Euro-Hawk fiascoes have been removed into a public forum and rather than as individual characters, film casts drones as a dread chorus. Maybe the trend peaked too soon, late to the game as we are, but I think that dexterity and availability have something to do with perception: how would the public have reacted to be policed (meaning chiefly preventing people from loitering and idleness) by patrol cars with no one else had such a horseless carriage?
 Even though ours had a personality, through the inscrutable technical manual and quirky behaviour, instantly, it's not a fleet to be batted away by the elements, not legion, nor a personal guardian angel or fairy godmother. I wonder if that's how we think of drones, in a theatrical way—a side-kick or a nemesising force, from the crows of Odin that scanned the universe, to Bubu the clockwork owl, VINcent from the darkly bizarre movie Black Hole, that flying sceptre from Flash Gordon, to the imperial probe that betrayed the rebels' location on Hoth, as sort of something one-off (with an inviolable set of weakness and limitations that is am important plot-point) and not with replacements waiting in the wings and certainly nothing accessible by mere mortals. It's pretty cool to be challenged with the clearance of extra dimensions and pretty fun too to get a glimpse from above without having to budget for imagination.