Uberveillance cements its position as an official dictionary word

uberveillance in macquarie dictionary.png

The word, ‘uberveillance’, coined by MG Michael and further developed by Katina Michael, is now gaining international acceptance and has been officially included in the fifth edition of the printed Macquarie Dictionary.

While uberveillance did not win the Word of the Year in 2008 it did top its category which was ‘Technology’.

The dictionary notes that uberveillance refers to “an omnipresent electronic surveillance facilitated by technology that makes it possible to embed surveillance devices in the human body”.

The word was coined in 2006 by UOW Honorary Senior Fellow Dr M.G. 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”.

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.

“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.

The Sydney Morning Herald noted in December last year in an article focusing on how the decade of the noughties was drawing to a close that words like uberveillance “might have not yet reached their peak”. The New York Times has also noted the coining of the new word.

Bernie Goldie, February 8, 2010, "Uberveillance cements its position as an official dictionary word", UOW Mediahttps://media.uow.edu.au/news/UOW073050.html

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.