With Words that Last

Others, like ‘‘climate porn’’ or ‘‘uberveillance’’ might have not yet reached their peak.
— Sydney Morning Herald

WE’RE about to leave the noughties, but not all of the words born in the past decade will necessarily be coming with us, a quick review shows. Some of the Macquarie Dictionary’s words of the year for 2006 still stack up pretty well: the inaugural list introduced ‘‘affluenza’’, ‘‘muffin top’’ and ‘‘cyberstalking’’ into our official lexicon. ‘‘Cyberathlete’’ didn’t fare as well as ‘‘cyber cheating’’ from 2007’s list, which also gave us ‘‘carbon footprint’’ and ‘‘infomania’’. ‘‘Pod slurping’’, referring to the act of downloading large quantities of computer data to a portable memory device, was named the top word of that year. It has been overshadowed by the ‘‘toxic debt’’ that topped 2008 – in more ways than one. Some words succumbed to more popular alternatives: ‘‘arse antlers’’ was no match for ‘‘tramp stamp’’ when referring to a lower back tattoo. Others, like ‘‘climate porn’’ or ‘‘uberveillance’’ might have not yet reached their peak. There have been some memorable additions internationally as well. The author and blogger Adam Jacot de Boinod noted New York gave us the ‘‘cuddle puddle’’ in 2002 to describe a bunch of exhausted ravers, the same year that Britain takes credit for ‘‘trout pout’’ for botoxed lips.Of the Australian words to make it to the worldwide list of the best of the decade, as quoted in the Guardian, we offered up ‘‘barbecue stopper’’ in 2002 to describe an important electoral issue, ‘‘dog-whistle politics’’ for views heard only by supporters, and ‘‘flash packers’’ for comfortable but intrepid travellers.

Citation: Sean Nicholls and Leesha McKenney, December 17, 2009, "With Words that Last", Sydney Morning Herald, p. 26.

Controlling Technology

Katina Michael is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Information Systems and Technology, Faculty of Informatics, University of Wollongong. Her latest book, co-authored by her husband Dr MG Michael, examines the social and ethical implications of surveillance technologies.

University of Wollongong academics Dr Katina Michael and Dr MG Michael have co-authored a book about the social impact of surveillance technologies.

Automatic Identification and Location-Based Services:from Bar Codes to Chip Implants (Information Science Reference, 2009) is a 500+ page reference book that emphasises the convergence and trajectory of automatic identification and location- based services toward chip implants and real-time positioning capabilities.

Automatic identification (auto-ID) is the act of identifying a living or non­living thing without direct human intervention. Location- based services (LBS) is the ability for an information system to denote the position of a user, based on a device they are carrying or their position in a given context. Recording the history of automatic identification from manual to automatic techniques (eg tattoos, barcodes and biometrics), this book also  discusses the social, cultural and ethical implications of the technological possibilities with respect to national security initiatives.

The book co-authored with honorary senior fellow Dr MG Michael is one of the first academic books to address the potential use of microchip implants for commercial applications, outside the medical domain. Instead of the traditional use of beneath-the-skin chips for prosthetic devices such as heart pacemakers, this detailed empirical study on microchip implants focuses on the potential for use-cases in access control, electronic health record identifiers and e-payment systems.

Being able to imply someone’s identity by their very location is extremely powerful, with critical implications for law enforcement and emergency services. Indeed this book is about the social implications of technology, and how new emerging innovations are completely changing the rules of engagement.

The book will be of interest not only to technologists, but also scholars, policy makers and advisors, legal and regulatory bodies. Yet the book is accessible by the wider community, and can also be used to raise public awareness about the potential social implications of emerging technologies.

The book was largely written during a time of global geo-political and economic turbulence when the world witnessed a rise in a new kind of terrorism and also large- scale natural disasters. In this time of evident technological advancement, many questioned why in such a period of rapid scientific progress we were so incapable of responding to such catastrophic events as the Hurricane Katrina disaster of 2005.

Government agencies, whether in the business of strategic intelligence or emergency management or securitisation are seeking new ways to protect their nation’s borders. In doing so, they have turned to technology for the answers.

For now the ID trajectory appears to be one of aiming to control the masses using technologies innovators have created and instituted. The question is whether this is the kind of environment we want to live in, filled with smart sensors, smart objects and real-time analytics. On face value, most perceive competitive advantages in terms of cost savings in business or at least emphasise the convenience factor for the individual or family. Wouldn’t it be a great life if I could walk up to my house door and not have to fiddle with keys to gain entry? Or if my office space could gauge my desired level of comfort and adjust settings accordingly? Or better still wouldn’t it be great if I could just communicate with others just by thinking about them, and never have to lift a handset? Or even know the whereabouts of my children at all times!

All these kinds of potential lifestyle options seem great but what ofthe continual decline of the individual to live, act, and to make decisions within a discernible physical space? Have we seriously considered the extensive implications this “new order” of existence might have on our general well-being?

And these are real consequences (not simply imagined ones) both on the physical and mental levels. Are we trying to convince ourselves that such things are the “Holy Grail” to contentment, to happiness, to the idealised, if not ideal life?

The consequences of these initiatives will take some time to be felt but already we can predict with some confidence some of the shortfalls. Postmodernist theory might have us believe that the profession of history is in crisis and that its methods are outmoded, but as Richard Evans and others have effectively argued, the discipline can teach us many lessons and provide us with genuine insights.

And in the context of technology itself, thinkers in the sociological tradition of Lewis Mumford and Jacques Ellul continue to challenge us to stop for a moment and to critically evaluate the unchecked consequences upon our civilisation of an “artificial environment”.

Whatever road is taken, the irreversible consequences will be felt by future generations. This is perhaps a traditional problem that has less to do with technology and more to do with people. Are we continually building new defences with a “catch me if you can” attitude, and “here, try penetrating my latest solutions”, or are we genuine about peaceful resolutions which look at the root causes of national security concerns?

The question is how much room are we truly leaving ourselves for future modification and change, if we go ahead and implement what we are proposing today? For the record, no one is debunking technology. The point is to remain the masters over that which we create, and to not allow for the “machine”to dictate the terms and boundaries of our existence.


Are you getting anywhere?

When you see national and international linkages in the form of cross-institutional collaborative efforts with real tangible outputs, you know you must be getting somewhere. Collaborations take years to develop -you need to understand what it is you wish to contribute, how you fit into your academic institution and wider context of national innovation, and how you might play a part in the international arena.

Best part of your research?

I enjoy working with people - mentoring young scholars, collaborating with colleagues, ongoing education and helping break new ground. Next year I am excited about our hosting the 26th IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society at the University of Wollongong on the theme of the social implications of emerging technologies. It is the first time academics across disciplines and countries will come together to discuss the socio-ethical implications of the potential use of microchip implants in humans, commercial location-based services and social networking technologies.

Funniest moment:

I was at an e-commerce conference in Chile in 2005 which had real-time translations of presentations (eg Spanish-to­English, English-to-Spanish). I decided I would try my hand at some Spanish and caught the translators off-guard completely, to the amusement of the audience.

Ugliest moment:

I’ve had a few while working in industry and much of this had to do with politics related to vendor-customer contract obligations. But in academia I cannot recollect a single ugly moment.

Have you had a true “Eureka! I’ve found it!”experience?

Yes, helping conceptualise the term “uberveillance” with MG Michael. It was voted Macquarie Online Dictionary Word of the Year in the technology category in 2008. That surprise still seems a little surreal.

Has it made you rich?

Not in dollar terms but it has contributed to raising public awareness about the implications of technology on society. When you receive messages of support outside academia you know you are striking a chord with your research. MG and I have been cited in government departmental reports, asked to give evidence in court cases on electronic surveillance, participated in federal government round tables, including international reference citations in Forbes Magazine, New York Times, LapTop Magazine, National Post and ABC America. The fact that uberveillance has now entered every-day language means people can relate to it.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

I loved participating in theatrical productions a lot - to some degree academics are in theatre ... lecturers should put on real performances when delivering their lectures to invite the audience to reflect on the subject matter more meaningfully. We shouldn’t be teaching our students to be parrots but to be critical thinkers who can interpret. Has your career followed a straight line? No, I have not had the typical academic career path but far from having halted my progress, this non-traditional entry has made my perspectives multi­dimensional and transdisciplinary.

What would you change?

If I could, the number of hours in the day!

Advice for young researchers?

University years are what you make of them. Take advantage of every opportunity to become a part of extra-curricular activities. It will help make you a well-rounded person and provide a balance between work, study and social life.

Next adventure?

Well, we’ve just finished a 500+ page reference book. The next adventure is a secret but I can say it’s a sequel of sorts.

Website for further information:

ro.uow.edu.au/ kmichael

Final comment:

“Day by day.”

Citation: Katina and MG Michael, Controlling Technology, Illawarra Mercury, September 22, 2009, p. 23.

Pastures New

Can RFID improve the entire dairy supply chain?

Dr Katina Michael, a senior lecturer at the School for Information Systems & Technology at the University of Wollongong in Australia, has conducted high-level research into RFID used in dairy farming. She says RFID doesn’t necessarily guarantee efficiency. ‘It depends on a company’s role in the supply chain, what region the produce comes from and how it is used in every day operations.’

She explains: ‘If a dairy farmer adopts RFID to meet a government mandate or industry-specific compliance directives then efficiency is likely to be pretty low to start with. Most Australian dairy farmers, for instance, have found the task of RFID tagging quite onerous in the main.’

RFID technology is still fairly young and initial use may be daunting for producers that have used traditional methods to distribute goods.

Michael says RFID will eventually benefit dairy farming in the end-to-end management of the dairy supply chain. ‘Other supply chain stakeholders besides the farmer, such as animal healthcare officials, veterinarians, livestock producers, sale yards, slaughterhouses and government agencies, can gain more knowledge as RFID can provide audit data and instant updates on the quality of the end product. Goods are now safer in transit and arrive fresh ready for consumption. For instance, milk volumes from each farmer can also be remotely monitored giving wholesalers and retailers a better idea on frequency volume of delivery.’

Citation: Maikie Curray, July 14, 2009, "Pastures New", Brand: Protection and Promotion World, InterTechPira,  Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 7-19.

A high-tech point of view

Helmet cameras and glasses that can record a persons point-of-view (POV) of the world were some of the subjects discussed at a conference held at the Wollongong City Beach Function Centre over the weekend.

The inaugural AUPOV09 national conference focussed on POV technologies - hands-free video and audio technologies that record your POV - and their applied use in an educational training and assessment context.

The conference brought together delegates from private enterprise, the Australian Navy, Australian Armed Forces, University of Wollongong, University of NSW, commercial publishers, educational consultants, and POV manufacturing and retail distributers.



UOW academics Associate Professor Tony Herrington (Education), Dr MG Michael (Informatics) and Dr Katina Michael (Informatics) addressed the conference.

Prof Herrington spoke on the topic of Mobile Learning at UOW and the use of emerging technologies such as mobile smart phones in education.

e presented some of the findings of a recent project of which he was a lead collaborator, The New Technologies, New Pedagogies, which investigated and created new teaching and learning strategies using mobile technologies.

Dr Michael and Dr Michael presented a plenary session on Teaching Ethics Using Wearable Computing and the Social Implications of the New 'Veillance'.

Citation: ILM, June 30, 2009, "A high-tech point of view", Illawarra Mercury, p. 24.

Uberveillance on Macquarie Dictionary's Online Web Site- Homepage

The Macquarie Dictionary Online is the most up-to-date Australian dictionary available. The Macquarie Dictionary Online gives you access to the Macquarie Dictionary Fourth Edition (published in print in 2005).

Advantages of subscribing to the Macquarie Dictionary Online: easy, comprehensive and interactive 1. searching annual updates — for 2008 words such as toxic debt, flashpacker, bromance, textaholic, guerilla gardener, ecocentrism, uberveillance, lawfare and many more 2.
3. updated encyclopedic information extra features.

Rapid pace of technological change goes beyond George Orwell predictions

Bernie Goldie. 29/04/2009

Rapid pace of technological change goes beyond George Orwell predictions

Welcome to the brave new world where national security concerns have presented governments with the justification to introduce surveillance on people on an unprecedented scale and where human chip implants are on the rise.

Ominous scenarios going beyond what was once predicted in novels such as George Orwell’s 1984 are brought to life in a new book, Innovative Automatic Identification and Location-Based Services: From Bar Codes to Chip Implants, by University of Wollongong (UOW) academics Dr Katina Michael and, Dr M.G. Michael.

The book details the social implications of technology and how new emerging innovations are completely changing the rules of engagement. In 2003, for instance, a family volunteered to officially receive the commercial VeriChip implant for an emergency service application. Such applications are on the rise especially in the United States.

Source: https://www.amazon.com/Innovative-Automatic-Identification-Location-Based-Services/dp/1599047950/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1521350903&sr=8-11&keywords=katina+michael

Source: https://www.amazon.com/Innovative-Automatic-Identification-Location-Based-Services/dp/1599047950/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1521350903&sr=8-11&keywords=katina+michael

The book was largely written during a time of global geo-political and economic turbulence when the world witnessed a rise in a new kind of terrorism and also large-scale emergencies related to natural disasters and looming pandemics.

The authors highlight that not all of the latest innovative techniques should be viewed negatively. For example, electronic health monitoring solutions are helping doctors gather accurate and timely medical data about their patients and their needs. And in the area of criminal intelligence, GPS tracking units are being used by law enforcement agencies to gather evidence towards convicting suspects of criminal activities or keeping track of parolees who have been released from prison.

The new and emerging technologies however, do carry with them serious implications for privacy, trust, control, and especially human rights. It was as recent as December 2008, that Indonesia’s Papua dropped its plans to microchip about 5,000 HIV/AIDS patients in order to monitor their actions. This raises major concerns about the application of invasive technology by institutions of higher authority. It also raises issues about the application, validity, and viability of the technology in a variety of usability contexts.

Automatic identification has evolved to use techniques that can identify an object or subject without direct human intervention – such devices include bar codes, magnetic-strip, integrated circuit, biometric, radio-frequency and nanotech-based identification.

Dr Katina Michael’s research interests are in the areas of automatic identification, location-based services, emerging mobile technologies, national security and their respective socio-ethical implications. She is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Information Systems and Technology at UOW, a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., and on the publications committee of the IEEE Technology and Society Magazine.

Dr M.G. Michael is an Honorary Senior Fellow in UOW’s School of Information Systems and Technology and a member of the American Academy of Religion. A theologian and historian with broad cross-disciplinary qualifications, Dr Michael provides expertise on ethical issues and the social implications of technology.

He coined the word ‘überveillance’ which this year was voted top in the ‘technology’ category in Macquarie Dictionary’s Word of the Year search. Dr Michael defines the emerging concept of überveillance as “an omnipresent electronic surveillance facilitated by technology that makes it possible to embed surveillance devices in the human body”.

Innovative Automatic Identification and Location-Based Services: From Bar Codes to Chip Implants (514pp) has been published by Information Science Reference. The book features seven full-length interviews with notable scientists, including Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading and Professor Christofer Toumazou, Director of the Biomedical Institute at Imperial College. Also featured is Mr Amal Graafstra, the world’s most recognised hobbyist implantee.

Citation: Bernie Goldie, April 29, 2009, "Rapid pace of technological change goes beyond George Orwell predictions", UOW Media Release, https://media.uow.edu.au/news/UOW058534.html

Big Brother an Inside Job

BY EMMA SHAW 25/02/2009 4:00:00 AM

Dr MG Michael wears a radio-frequency identification wristband, stick tag and button. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

Dr MG Michael wears a radio-frequency identification wristband, stick tag and button. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

Big Brother could soon be tracking our every thought and movement, according to a University of Wollongong academic who says microchips implanted in the human body could become commonplace within two or three generations.

Dr MG Michael, honorary senior fellow at the School of Information Systems and Technology, coined the term "uberveillance" to encompass the notion of surveillance systems as embedded networks within the human body.

"It is Big Brother not on the outside looking down, but on the inside looking out," Dr Michael said.

"We are presently witnessing the emergence of uberveillance in various forms.

"Today we have cars tagged with radio-frequency identification for use in electronic toll collection, animals that bear national livestock identification system tags, prisoners adorned with electronic bracelets and even people that have embedded chips for making transactions at VIP lounges at clubs."

Dr Michael, whose area of interest covers philosophy and theology, as well as the social implications of information communication technology, said the chips could be located just about anywhere in the human body.

He said the issue raised many concerns.

"There is currently a heightened tension between the trade-offs of national security versus personal security," Dr Michael said.

"There will always be the potential to use uberveillance in positive applications to save lives, but once instituted the risks, especially to human rights, are incalculable."

Citation: Emma Shaw, February 25, 2009, "Big Brother an inside job", Illawarra Mercury, https://works.bepress.com/mgmichael/36/

Macquarie Dictionary chooses 'toxic debt' as 2008 word of the year

Staff and wires February 04, 2009 10:05am

UPDATE 2pm: AUSTRALIA'S leading dictionary has dubbed "toxic debt" 2008 word of the year.

Read more of the nominees here.

The term comes as the effect of the global financial crisis continues to hit home.

By definition, the noun is a “debt which, although initially acquired as a legitimate business transaction, proves subsequently to be financially worthless, as the subprime loans which precipitated the GFC''. 

In the end, toxic debt edged out “bromance'' (“a non-sexual but intense friendship between two males''); “textaholic'' (“someone who sends an excessive number of text messages''); and “flashpacker'' (“a backpacker who travels in relative luxury'').

Macquarie Dictionary sages chose the term after its committee mulled over the year’s most important events. 

Publisher Sue Butler said environment and water issues also were examined.

“But the event of 2008 which overshadows all our lives was the GFC, itself a term now added to the lexicon,'' Ms Butler said.

“In this category, 'toxic debt' was thought to be the root cause, the lingering blight on our lives, and in addition it had, as a lexical creation, a visceral impact. It needed no explanation but said it all.''

Also in the “honourable mentions” include guerilla gardener (a person who plants gardens in neglected public areas such as nature strips, roundabouts and council parks); and “lawfare” (the use of international law to attack another country on moral grounds).

And topping various categories include: 

• Audiation (“the process by which one plays over in one's mind music that one has heard, which intrudes itself sometimes to an unpleasant degree.”);
• Baby brain (“the perceived diminished mental capacity, as characterised by forgetfulness, loss of concentration, etc., thought to be a side effect of pregnancy.”);
• Bullycide (“suicide which is a reaction to being bullied.”);
• Car crash TV (“a television program that is simultaneously absorbing and repulsive for the viewer”);
• Celeblog (“a blog written by a celebrity”);
• Celebutard (“a celebrity who is regarded as excessively stupid.”);
• Chess boxing (“a sport which alternates a round of boxing with a round of chess.”);
• Chicken-wing tackle (“an illegal tackle (in Rugby League) in which the arm of the person tackled is pushed up behind his back.”);
• Click-and-mortar (“adjective of or relating to a company which has operations both online and offline”);
• Climate porn (“predictions, thought to be exaggeratedly alarmist, about the progress of global warming and its effects on the world.”);
• Divorce gene (“men with a variant of this gene … may have a lowered motivation towards a social bonding with their partner”)
• Ear gauging an ear piercing procedure that involves the stretching of the pierced hole with a series of objects, each one larger than the previous one

• Ecocentrism (“a philosophy based on the idea that the ecosphere is more central to life than any particular organism”);
• Extreme programming (“the style of programming required for agile development.”);
• Fanta pants (“a person whose hair is naturally red”);
• Film tourism (“tourism occasioned by the wish to visit a well-known location used in a film or television production; set jetting.”);
• Fur child (“a pet animal, as a cat or dog, treated as one would a child.”);
• Generation Z (“the generation born in the early 2000s, following generation Y, characterised as being at ease with computer technology, online and mobile phone communication.”);
• GIS (“a computer system that can capture, store, analyse, and present in various ways data that locates places on the earth's surface.”);
• Granny season (“(in Australia) winter, during which many older members of the population travel north, especially with caravans, campervans, etc.”);
• Guerilla dining (“dining at a restaurant that has been set up temporarily in an unused space such as a car park, beach, rooftop or a private home”)
• Helicopter parenting (“a style of child rearing in which parents are excessively attentive to and involved in the lives of their children;

• Hybrid embryo (“an embryo which has a human cell nucleus inserted into an animal egg; developed to create stem cells to be used in medical treatments.”);
• Lifestreaming (“the online recording of one's daily life, delivered either by means of a webcam, or aggregated from personal blogs, microblogs”);
• Linkbait (“to create points of interest in (a website) so that other sites will link to it and increase traffic”);
• Lolcat (“a photograph of an animal, usually a cat, posed or digitally edited and humorously captioned using elements of baby talk, SMS coding, etc., in the text.”);
• Nomophobia (“a state of anxiety brought on by not having mobile phone contact, as from a low battery, no network coverage, etc.”)
• Pimp cup (“a goblet-shaped glass, usually brightly coloured and highly decorated, often with the owner's name picked out in rhinestones.”);
• Plastic soup (“a floating mass of waste, mainly plastic, which accumulates at the point in the ocean where a gyre is located”);
• Pod person (“someone who unquestioningly accepts authority, taking all ideas, dogmas, policies, etc., without question.”);
• Saviour sibling (“a child selected in embryo for genetic characteristics which can be of benefit to an existing brother or sister with an illness, especially for potentially curative stem cells to be used in medical treatments.”);
• Scene kid (“a person who adopts an unconventional style of dress, such as coloured hair worn high on the head, dramatic eyeliner and straight jeans, and who prefers hip-hop, screamo, punk rock, and other offbeat genres of music);
• Sexting (“the receiving or sending of a sexually explicit photo or video clip on a mobile phone”);
• Shwopping (“the exchange of items of clothing and accessories for a similar item offered by someone else on a website designed to facilitate such an exchange.”)
• Sugging (“attempting to sell under the guise of conducting market research, often with incentives attached to lead the potential customer to a purchase.”)
• Toad buster (“a person engaged in the eradication of the cane toad”);
• Torino scale (“a scale for categorising the impact hazard posed by near-earth objects, such as asteroids and comets.”);
• Transformative justice (“a form of justice which seeks to involve all parties, wrongdoers, victims, families, and friends, in a process of understanding the motivation and the consequences of the crime”); 

• tunneling (“a tactic (in Australian Rules) used by a player to unbalance an opponent going for a mark by knocking their legs sideways while they are in the air.”);
• Twitterverse (“the world of microbloggers.”)
• uberveillance (“an omnipresent electronic surveillance facilitated by technology that makes it possible to embed surveillance devices in the human body.”); and,
• Wii shoulder (“painful inflammation of the shoulder caused by excessive playing of virtual computer games involving movement.”).

Citation: Staff and Wires, February 4, 2009, "Macquarie Dictionary chooses 'toxic debt' as 2008 word of the year", Herald Sun. 

Humans 'will be implanted with microchips'

All Australians could be implanted with microchips for tracking and identification within the next two or three generations, a prominent academic says. 

This VeriChip microchip contains identity and health information and is embedded under the skin. (AAP)

This VeriChip microchip contains identity and health information and is embedded under the skin. (AAP)

Michael G Michael from the University of Wollongong's School of Information Systems and Technology, has coined the term "uberveillance" to describe the emerging trend of all- encompassing surveillance.

"Uberveillance is not on the outside looking down, but on the inside looking out through a microchip that is embedded in our bodies," Dr Michael told ninemsn. 

Microchips are commonly implanted into animals to reveal identification details when scanned and similar devices have been used with Alzheimers patients. US company VeriChip is already using implantable microchips, which store a 16-digit unique identification number, on humans for medical purposes. 

"Our focus is on high-risk patients, and our product's ability to identify them and their medical records in an emergency," spokesperson Allison Tomek said. "We do not know when or if someone will develop an implantable microchip with GPS technology, but it is not an application we are pursuing."

Another form of uberveillance is the use of bracelets worn by dangerous prisoners which use global positioning systems to pinpoint their movements. But Dr Michael said the technology behind uberveillance would eventually lead to a black box small enough to fit on a tiny microchip and implanted in our bodies. 

This could also allow someone to be located in an emergency or for the identification of corpses after a large scale disaster or terrorist attack. "This black box will then be a witness to our actual movements, words — perhaps even our thoughts —-and play a similar role to the black box placed in an aircraft," he said. 

He also predicted that microchip implants and their infrastructure could eliminate the need for e-passports, etags, and secure ID cards. "Microchipping I think will eventually become compulsory in the context of identification within the frame of national security," he said.
Although uberveillance was only in its early phases, Dr Michael's wife, Katina Michael — a senior lecturer from UOW's School of Information Systems and Technology — said the ability to track and identify any individual was already possible.

"Anyone with a mobile phone can be tracked to 15m now," she said, pointing out that most mobile phone handsets now contained GPS receivers and radio frequency identification (RFID) readers. "The worst scenario is the absolute loss of human rights," she said. 

Wisconsin, North Dakota and four other states in the US have already outlawed the use of enforced microchipping. "Australia hasn't got specific regulations addressing these applications," she said. "We need to address the potential for misuse by amending privacy laws to ensure personal data protection."

Uberveillance has been nominated for Macquarie Dictionary's Word of the Year 2008.


Citation: Josephine Asher, "Humans 'will be implanted with microchips'", ninemsn.com, January 30, 2009.

Addendum: The following comment was provided but was not included in the final production of the article for reasons of space and readability. I provide here regardless.

  • "Technology is not foolproof. That’s one of the paradoxes of these surveillance systems," Katina Michael said. "Our ethical and legislative discourse lags far behind the diffusion and application of location based services. "There needs to be some public discourse and debate."

  • Dr Katina Michael recently received a grant from the Australian Research Council to research and propose new regulations to address these new technologies. "Implants is only one small component of the research - the main things we’re investigating relate to consumer mobile location records and data protection, socio-ethical dilemmas related to social networking applications based on the tracking of other human beings and privacy.

  • "Where do we stop and where do we begin? We have to be very careful at this early point as the new capabilities and their effects on society are relatively untested," Katina said.

Vote 1 uberveillance: UOW term in running for 2008 Word of the Year

16 Jan 2009 | Kate McIlwain

(say 'oohbuhvayluhns)
noun. an omnipresent electronic surveillance facilitated by technology
that makes it possible to embed surveillance devices in the human
body. Also, überveillance.

A word invented by UOW researchers has made it into the Macquarie Dictionary and, along with 91 other new words, is in the running to become the 2008 Macquarie Word of the Year.

Uberveillance in practice: Mr Amal Graafstra has two radiofrequency

The word uberveillance was coined in 2006 by UOW Honorary Senior Fellow Dr MG Michael and the concept has been further developed together with UOW senior lecturer Dr Katina Michael.

The first time the term was used by Dr Michael was in a guest lecture he delivered on the “Consequences of Innovation”.

Drs Michael and Michael had been researching the trajectory of ‘beneath-the-skin’ surveillance technologies that could identify and locate individuals.

The duo said the word simply ‘came out’ in a moment of inspiration, when Michael was searching for words to describe the embedded technologies. They said the term “surveillance” didn’t describe the full extent of the technological capabilities available today.

“Michael could find no other term but to bring together the German prefix “über” with the French root word “veiller” to describe the exaggerated surveillance conducted by governments in the name of national security,” Dr Katina Michael said.

“Michael has always had an affinity with words from some earlier studies in linguistics and his
success in having his poetry published in a number of Australia’s major literary journals.”

“We needed a word to describe the profoundly intrusive nature of such technologies and it was no longer about Big Brother looking down, but rather about Big Brother on the inside looking out,” she said.

Some research concerning uberveillance has so far included studies on the privacy, trust and
security implications of chip implants (e.g. Alzheimer’s patients), the socio-ethical implications of pinpoint location based services, an exploration of the factors motivating ‘underground
implantees’ to embed technology in their body; and looking at the trade-offs between privacy,
value and control in radio-frequency identification applications like e-passports and e-tollways.

The term and associated research has attracted attention from the media and academic community in its three-year lifespan, but being put into the Macquarie Dictionary has special significance. 

“To get it recognised in Australia’s official dictionary was for us an absolute thrill,” Dr Katina Michael said.

“It clearly evidences to the impact of our work… especially given the list of words is international and includes terms that have been in use for much longer.

“We do not know who nominated the word, or how it got onto the list, but it is without a doubt one of the outcomes we will hold as a major achievement,” she said.

2008 Word of the Year is awarded to the word that gains the most votes from the public – so
Katina and Michael are urging UOW staff and students to log on, improve their vocabularies, and support UOW research.

How to vote:

  1. Go to the Word of the Year page.
  2. Click on VOTE NOW and scroll to the TECHNOLOGY tab.
  3. Click on the Uberveillance button.
  4. Enter your email address.
  5. Press submit.

Citation: Kate McIlwain, January 16, 2009, "Vote 1 uberveillance: UOW term in running for 2008 Word of the Year", UOW Media, https://media.uow.edu.au/news/UOW053997.html

The year of climate porn and fanta pants

Erik Jensen January 8, 2009


LAST year began in excess and ended in disaster, if the words it contributed to the Macquarie Dictionary are any indication. The past year was one of flashpacking and toxic debt, of wellness tourism and the GFC. Those, alongside 91 other words and phrases, were added in 2008 to the Macquarie Dictionary's online edition.

"It says there was incredible smugness and consumption and then something hit it in the vitals and that made it sound silly and selfindulgent," the poet and Macquarie committee member, Les Murray, said of the list. 

"There were two big things that happened in 2008. One you can't use because it's a proper noun, and that's Obama. The second was subprime."

The editor of the Macquarie Dictionary, Susan Butler, said the influence of America was again large on the list of words she selected. But the British fanta pants "from the orange-coloured soft drink … with reference to pubic hair as the indicator of hair colour" was a notable exception.

The big trend for the year was the growth of environmental language: of ecocentrism, referring to the philosophy in which the ecosphere is more important than an organism or human  activity; of plastic soup, referring to a mass of plastic on an ocean gyre; and of climate porn, referring to alarmist predictions about the progress of global warming.

"There's 19 categories rather than 17 because environment had to be split into two," Ms Butler said. "And then it is in politics as well." 

Looking through the list of words, Mr Murray said lifestreaming (the online recording of one's daily life) sounded better than what it meant.

Uberveillance (omnipresent electronic  surveillance through devices embedded in the body) had more future than present.

And water footprint (the amount of fresh water used by a country, business or individual) was his pick for beauty. 

Readers of the Macquarie are encouraged to vote online for their favourite word, from which a people's choice will be announced in February.

The pick from 2007 was password fatigue, referring to the feeling encountered when a vast number of passwords renders a user unable to remember any of them.

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2009/01/07/1231004105770.html

Erik Jensen, January 8, 2009, "The year of climate porn and fanta pants", Sydney Morning Heraldhttp://www.smh.com.au/articles/2009/01/07/1231004105770.html