Surveillance in Pop Culture

Created and Written by Alcyone Brigid Meehan, Annabelle Shao, Damian Ciccone and Jessie Hare


Group 34 is composed of group members: Annabelle, Alcy, Damian and Jessie. In order to efficiently complete this collaboration of the surveillance story. Team members set up a group chat on twitter and also conducted an audio chat through Skype with various periods of brainstorming to determine the topic of discussion about Pop culture and surveillance.

All group members have value and contributed to this collaboration, actively carrying out tasks and research of useful information. Everyone had a clear task: creating and editing the video, finding references where needed, edit the article and modifying the details.

Variety of Options Considered

It was a late Monday evening in September when group 34 met up over Skype to begin our brainstorming process. After some brief introductions we got stuck straight into planning the content for the video. Reading through the unit guide we discussed firstly the various topics of interest.

Initially there had been some discussion over analysing the correlation between the use of CCTV footage, privacy and surveillance, but this was ruled out when we realised that two of our four group members had already covered this topic in previous blog posts. Bearing this in mind, we then employed a secondary technique in order to come to an agreement regarding the video topic.


Surveillance by Yeong-Nam (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Each of us read over the suggested prompts and swiftly we discovered we were all eager to research more into the role of surveillance in popular culture. The scope of the topic is so broad that we found we had no trouble reeling off possible points that could be made.

We discussed the celebrification of individuals in this field such as Julian Assange, the portrayal in media and literary forms, along with the negative consequences celebrity figures face due to surveillance.

A good example of this was the Kim Kardashian jewellery theft in Paris that resulted from the criminals following her social media to find where she was and what pieces she had with her. By the conclusion of the Skype meeting we had drafted an idea of the message we would like to convey and the best way to depict this in our videos.

Processes Undertaken for the video’s Preparation and Creation

At the beginning of the process of starting this assignment, the group was quiet and took a little while to get going. Therefore, the preparation to be able to create our video was to keep on pursuing the online collaboration. This began by experiencing with new and old online tools and we found that twitter was our strongest suit to communicate on.

It was important for all of us to communicate with each other in what we planned on doing for our individual parts of the video. As Alcyone had the introduction and I had the conclusion, we obviously needed both Damian and Annabelle’s parts so we knew how to start and end the video.

The plan was to each make our own scripts and put them into our group google doc so that we all knew what each person was saying. With that we were able to work off each others’ videos.


Snowden Effect by DonkeyHotey (CC BY 2.0)

We then moved onto to the actual creation of our finished video. From the skype call and meeting minutes, each member assigned themselves to a topic and roles for the project. Once each member knew what they were to do for their part of the group collaboration they were then able to create their content individually.

Furthermore, once everyone was happy with their own footage and the editing they did individually for their part, we all sent our small videos to Alcyone who was in charge of the overall editing of the entirety of the video.


Surveillance by Rule_62 (CC BY 2.0)

Intended Meanings & Messages Conveyed in the Video

Within this video, the intended meanings and main messages tend to relate mainly to the popularization and hugely prominent nature of surveillance within pop culture society, as well as the realization that they tend to go hand in hand, in modern society. One message contained within this video tends to relate back to how through the eyes of the government, surveillance is able keep an eye on unaware citizens of society at any given moment.

It should be stressed that modern and pop culture are more of the same and that mass media plays a very dominant role in conveying ideas and behaviours to a young age demographic, which is aided by the surveying of these individuals. At this point, the message to consider here is how much surveillance is too much? When doe’s it start to become intrusive?


Stylized surveillance cameras by Corey Burger (CC BY-SA 2.0)

One message of the video’s introduction briefly talks about how popular figures such as Edward Snowden and Julian Assange are representative of pop culture, displaying the controversial topic of surveillance to the public and thus, creating awareness of the issue itself.

Furthermore, the video highlights some of the positive aspects that tie in with surveillance, mainly how themes of surveillance, privacy and hacking culture are reflected greatly in film and television and making audiences aware of the issue.

Although, the video also goes back to the idea that many of these artistic expressions through the form of film and television paint a very dystopian view of society and surveillance, illustrating the pro’s and con’s of the combination of pop culture and surveillance in modern society.


Best marketing at #sxsw goes to Mr Robot by Andrew Hyde (CC BY 2.0)


Everyone living in the surveillance age through this digital collaboration with pop culture enables us to have an in-depth understanding of the topic at hand. Firstly, Alcy began the video with the introduction, focusing on the definition of popular culture and it’s ties with surveillance, establishing a clear framework for the rest of the video.

Next, Damian and Annabelle from two different perspectives described this issue, with Jessie concluding and summing up the discussion points of the video to great effect.

Throughout this collaboration, the group 34 members all contributed greatly to the overall task, always contacting each other and sharing their own ideas and positive comments which was the core to the success of this collaborative piece.

Despite some trouble and uncertainties throughout the process of the creation of the video, it was fortunate to be resolved with the combined efforts of each group member, creating a piece of work each member is proud of.


CC Image References:


Prevention and Detection: Surveillance Safeguarding Society From Acts Of Criminality

A requirement of a previous university assessment was to read through articles produced by my peers studying digital media and surveillance. A common theme prevalent within all of the blog’s that I elected to read, was the bleak viewpoint each piece took on the use of digital surveillance in modern society (I too was guilty of proposing such a stance).

As I sat down to begin writing this final post, it was with the intention to once again peddle the same narrative, “surveillance is bad, it violates our rights and the government just wants control”. But instead I found myself recoiling. Hang on! There has to be some substantial benefits of surveillance that we are neglecting to mention or only eluding to in an offhand manner when discussing surveillance. Therefore, within this current post I’ve attempted to explore some of the advantages surveillance offers citizens, with a particular focus on how it is being used to prevent and detect criminal acts on home soil.

Invasion of privacy has fast become buzz words echoed throughout our collective psyche. Used to wag fingers at digital tracking and collection of individual’s data by corporations, including government and defence industries. Now despite the sigh you may exhale when I say, “evidence shows surveillance measures can be used effectively in crime stopping” (not that old chestnut again), it remains unarguably a valid claim.

‘The state undermines privacy in the name of security.’ (Karatzogianni & Gak 2015, p. 132).

Image: The Control Room by Jonathan

Analyses conducted by researcher Robert Rhodes (2007) examined the evidence in favour of “electronic eavesdropping” being employed by US law enforcement, to apprehend culprits of organised crime. Techniques such as wiretapping and digital data collection were seen to be used effectively by the governing agencies, to assemble intelligence on threatening activity and to halt illegal drug trafficking and gambling conspirators (Rhodes 2007, p. 424). Whilst Rhodes (2007, p. 423) acknowledged the cost to innocent people’s privacy when considering mass community surveillance, none the less the price was justifiable when considering the effect of disrupting these criminal acts had on public safety.

Image: Surveillance by Jonathan McIntosh

Additionally, another form of community surveillance, CCTV cameras, within public spaces has been examined by academics to test its effectiveness at managing crime rates within communities. Use of CCTV cameras, particularly in parking lots, was correlated with deterring acts of theft and vandalism (Welsh & Farrington 2009, p. 743). Moreover, a literature review undertaken by the Australian Government revealed the successful application of CCTV surveillance in detecting violent crimes and assisting significantly in reprimanding guilty perpetrators of crime in public (Australian Institute of Criminology 2010, para. 9). An example of such an application is outlined in this podcast which examines the infamous case of Jill Meagher, who’s murder was caught on CCTV camera moments before the incident took place and the footage which helped identify and convict them of their atrocious act (Sutton 2017, para. 12).

Although we recognise there are many questionable applications of surveillance technology that potentially pry into the privacy of innocent civilian’s live’s. The question we should be asking ourselves is not, whether we are okay with being open to invasion by government and defence organisations? Instead we should be asking ourselves, if we are open to being surveyed as a price for protection against any fellow society members that may wish others harm? The concept is a tough one to grapple with and by no means black and white. Good luck to each of us as we come to our conclusions about what privacy costs we are willing to accept in order to ensure community security?


Reference List

Australian Institute of Criminology 2010, Effectiveness of public space CCTV systems, Australian Government, retrieved 7 September 2017, <>.

Karatzogianni, A & Gak, M 2015, ’Hack or be hacked: The quasi-totalitarianism of global trusted networks’, New Formations, vol. 84, pp. 130-148, doi: 10.398/NEWP:84/85.06.2015

Riots in Hackney by Surian Soosay (CC BY 2.0)

Rhodes, R 2007, ‘Electronic surveillance, organised crime and civil liberties’, Policy Studies Journal, vol. 7, pp. 419-425, doi: 10.1111/1541-0072.ep11833334

Surveillance by Jonathan McIntosh (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Sutton, C 2017, ‘Shadowed by a killer: Jill Meagher’s final walk’,, 4 May, retrieved 8 September 2017 <>.

The Control Room by Jonathan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Welsh, B & Farrington, D 2009, ‘Public area CCTV and crime prevention: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis’, Justice Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 716-745, doi: 10.1080/07418820802506206

The Passive Acceptance of Privacy Invasion Over the Passage Of Time

 ‘You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every moment scrutinized.’ (Orwell 2008, p. 3).

It is without question that the idea of having your every movement documented and available to an unknown authority is chilling. Yet despite this reality, modern humanity readily subscribes to this form of surveillance. Through use of mobile devices with geolocation technology an obscene amount of data regarding an individual’s activity can be captured.

Geolocation is a devices capability to use satellite technology to track an objects (and subsequently a person’s) whereabouts (Mura 2013, p. 79). Whilst the conceptualization behind location tracking is well-meaning and idealistic. On an individual level consumers receive immense benefits from GPS navigation when using applications such as maps, weather reports or transport services. And on a societal level the prospect of using such devices to assist in emergency response, health care and security, work to reinforce the adoption of rampant geolocation apparatuses (Furini & Tamanini 2015, p. 9796). Regardless of these apparent benefits, the possibility of foreign third parties being privy to your activities can lead down a rabbit hole of alarming worst case scenarios. Anyone read 1984?

Tweets embedded from @AlcyMeehan profile. 

One of the most common arguments put forward in order to convince users that unrestrained location tracking is worthwhile, is the claim that consumer industries can use this information to target marketing and advertising to specific audiences (Mura 2013, p. 80). In theory the idea of having individually tailored ads based on your surrounding area sounds convincing.  Nonetheless, a recent survey conducted by Mura (2013) revealed that public opinion refuted the notion of targeted advertising on the basis that the information may be misused and more importantly that restricted advertisement might mean they’d miss out on a good deal which may otherwise not present itself in a tailored marketing campaign.

With 2.32 billion smart phone users across the globe in 2017 and growing steadily more numerous (Statista 2017). The concern surrounding privacy breaches and regulation of mobile devices is not disparate. Yet, despite the vast amounts of literature outlining the privacy issues faced by consumers. The cost of unchecked surveillance does not appear to outweigh the benefits of mobile device features that require 24/7 tracking. Ultimately it is apparent that convenience is one of modern civilizations greatest values.

Buzz in Google Maps by Johan Larsson (CC BY 2.0)

However, there are two key considerations that should be highlighted when discussing human’s consent to location tracking. A study undertaken by Furini and Tamanini (2015) identified that users must feel they have authorization over subscribing to geolocation applications, as opposed to being blind sighted with surveillance.

Tweets embedded from @AlcyMeehan profile. 

Furthermore, after interviewing members of the public, it was noted that consumers require obvious benefits when enabling the collection of location data. Individuals were open to applications tracking their movements as long as they gained from it (Furini & Tamanini 2015, p. 9823). Whilst it appears that many are content to continue allowing geolocation abilities to monitor their daily movements, it is not without conditions that we accept it. Perhaps once we become more active in assessing how our freedom is open to invasion, stricter regulations can be put into place ensuring individuals right to privacy.


Reference List

Buzz in Google Maps by Johan Larsson (CC BY 2.0)

Data Security Breach by Blogtrepreneur (CC BY 2.0)

Furini, M & Tamanini, V 2015, ‘Location privacy and public metadata in social media platforms: attitudes, behaviors and opinions’, Multimedia Tools and Applications, vol. 74, no. 21, pp. 9795-826, doi:10.1007/s11042-014-2151-7

‘Glenn Greenwald: Why privacy matters’ 2014, YouTube, TED, 10 October, 1 August 2017, <>.

Mura, R 2013, ‘Geolocation and targeted advertising: Making the case for heightened protections to address growing privacy concerns’, Buffalo Intellectual Property Law Journal, vol. 9, pp. 77-88, retrieved on 9 August 2017, <;.

Orwell, G 2008, 1984, Penguin Books, London, UK.

Statista 2017, Number of smartphone users worldwide from 2014 to 2020 (in billions), Statista, retrieved on 8 August 2017, <>.

Video Making: Treading The Well Worn Track.

For the focus of my most recent video, I opted to analyse a civil liberty that is becoming increasingly crucial in a progressively volatile world, online activism. The video conducts an examination into some of the challenges and possibilities that a virtual platform presents to those driving social change.

My journey began amid the vast shelves of Deakin University’s online library. A simple search turned over hundreds of resources on various aspects of digital activism, briefly skimming through the titles, I chose my favorites. The remainder of my day was then spent lounging outside in the afternoon sun, highlighting, note-taking and sipping on icy cold beverages (water only).

For the next stage I took to social media, tweeting out to peers, eager to hear any examples of online activism they’d come across in their studies. Receiving a tentative response, I continued on with my research, finding various materials, TedTalks, discussion panels and even some past student videos covering the topic. After days of collating information on the pros and cons of online activism, it was now time for me to condense my findings into four concise points;

  • Accessible Audiences
  • The Corporate Internet
  • Like-minded Collaboration
  • Superficial Engagement

Happily, filming went off without a hitch. Taking only half a day to complete, I was relieved to be so far ahead of schedule. This was shaping up to be the most straight forward assessment yet! (Famous last words anyone?)

That night as I was falling asleep I began to feel unsatisfied. At that point I only had me talking at the camera and I knew, no matter how charismatic my mother told me I was, I needed something more. An interview with an activist! That, my friends, is a bingo.

Naomi Hogan, throughout her lifetime, has advocated for various organisations seeking to bring change to environmental, social and human rights issues. Currently residing in the Northern Territory, Ms Hogan works as a coordinator for the Lock the Gate Alliance. I was fortunate to chat with Naomi, who shared first hand the benefits and downfalls online media has presented in her line of work. The anecdotal evidence she provided, further enriched the content of the video and my own grasp upon the subject. But in every great story the hero must also face their fair share of adversity. Thus far, my journey to completion of assessment two had been virtually unhindered. That was until we reached the editing stage.

Now for some reason, despite having efficiently made various videos using a skillful combination of iMovie and Windows Movie Maker, for some reason, I thought it would be a great idea to try my hand at editing with Adobe Premiere Pro with only three days to spare. Never before have I encountered a program more user un-friendly than Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Right about now you may be shaking your head or laughing at my foolhardiness (don’t worry, I laughed too…after I finished crying).

‘Midnight Crisis’ by Alcy Meehan

On the eve of the submission day I conceded my time was being wasted on Premiere Pro. I packed my bags, exported all the work I had done and headed back over to the familiar interface of Movie Maker. In a moment of sleep deprived ingenuity, I realised I could easily animate an opening title on the ever-reliable PowerPoint. It took 5 minutes of minimal effort to create a video that put my hours of Premiere Pro attempts to more shame…as if it were possible.

The road to completion was one fraught with challenges. Whilst I may now be able to boast a more informed understanding of the nuances of online activism, I cannot however do the same for Premiere Pro. I suppose then the moral of this piece is, sometimes it’s ill-advised to choose the path less traveled and if in doubt, trust Microsoft PowerPoint and Windows Movie Maker.

Unless anyone else has some suggestions on an editing program?



ABC News 2017, Netherlands government launches global abortion fun to counter Trump cuts, ABC, 19 Jan 2017, <>.

Carty, V 2015, Social movements and new technology, Westview Press, retrieved 19 Jan 2017, Deakin University Library’s Catalog.

Dordevic, J & Zezelj, I 2016, ‘Civic activism online: Making young people dormant or more active in real life?’ Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 70, pp. 113-118, retrieved 19 Jan 2017, doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.12.070

Erkman, M 2014, ‘The dark side of online activism: Swedish right-wing extremist video activism on YouTube’, MedieKultur: Journal of Media & Communication Research, vol. 70, no. 56, pp. 79-99, retrieved on 19 Jan 2017, Communication & Mass Media Complete.

‘Film’ by Douglas Arruda avaliable here under a Creative Commons Attribution.

How social media creates a better world: Jan Rezab at TEDxSSE 2014, YouTube, TedX Talks, 5 May, retrieved on 2 Feb 2017, <>.

Kimmorley, S 2015, ‘In good company: How Thankyou water got the attention of Australia’s biggest retailers’, Business Insider Australia, 5 May, retrieved 19 Jan 2017, <>.

Techopedia, 2017, Cyberactivism, Techopedia inc., retrieved on 3 Feb 2017, <>.

Terzis, G 2015, ‘Death trends’, Kill your darlings, vol. 22, pp. 9-24, retrieved 19 Jan 2017,

The Stream – Is social media killing online activism? 2016, YouTube, Al Jazeera English, 11 Jan, retrieved 20 Jan 2017, <>.

Morning Sun
by Nicolai Heidlas Music (CC BY 3.0)

Back in Summer – Upbeat Ukulele Background Music
by Nicolai Heidlas Music (CC BY 3.0)


Swingin’ Jazz – Happy Background Music – Ukulele and Guitar – Jazz / Blues
by Nicolai Heidlas Music (CC BY 3.0)

Into The Clouds – Background Music
by Nicolai Heidlas Music (CC BY 3.0)

Smile Ding
by Alex Potter Sound Design (CC BY 3.0)

Wrong Buzzer Sound Effect
by Jonas Abelsen (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

Large Group Applause
by RinaldiSound (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Broader Online Activity 

Please see Tiffit Tally.

Why we should stop saying “be yourself” and start saying, “be whichever one of yourselves best suits this situation.” – An analysis.

It’s often said that simply “being yourself” will steer you toward success. I’d get offered that job I want so badly, if only I nailed being myself in the interview. If I remembered to just be myself on the date I’ve got coming up, it could easily develop into something more long term. All those kids in school would totally have wanted to become my best friend if only, you guessed it, I was being myself.

Yet what this ceaselessly advised concept fails to take into consideration is the contextual nature of self-hood. Each of the above scenarios calls upon a different aspect of who I am, a professional, a partner and a friend. I will be the first to acknowledge that in each of these environments my self-presentation is completely transformed. And this, I hope, is something we have all experienced, it’s called social skills. So why do we have more difficulty in an online world, accepting the occurrence of multiple selves as still authentic?

Mazur and Li (2016) argue that we utilise social media to enact public performances of identity. Marshall’s article furthers upon this idea of online performance, indicating ‘what is constructed via Facebook but equally through Twitter is a construction of character for a kind of ritual of the performance of the self’ (2010 p. 40). However Mazur and Li later clarify that these enactments are not counterfeits, but rather selective ‘experiments with facets of themselves and their identity’ (2016, p. 102). And this selectivity is not limited to online, as quoted by the Bard himself, the world is a stage, and we are simply actors in it. Social media does not cause the façade, though perhaps it gives us the tangible evidence of it occurring and that is unsettling. As Marshall states, ‘…these sites and the exchanges that develop on them are extensions in the production of the self…’, these extensions are still us (2010 p. 42).

Contextualising conduct is a difficult concept to accept in a society whose cognitive processes rely on clear labels and neat categorisation. Shaffer and Kipp indicate that as we mature we become more sophisticated self-theorists and are therefore increasingly more comfortable with the grey area that surrounds the malleability of identity across contexts (2010, p. 509). Below is a screenshot of the two main folders on my phone. I’ve divided my accounts into social and professional platforms and whilst these two aspects of my personality are compartmentalised, they’re still both sides of a greater me.  ­

Screenshot of phone screen.

In April of 2013 Hillary Clinton was quoted in an address to the National Multi-Housing Council saying,

‘You just have to sort of figure out how to… how to balance the public and the private…’ (Wolfgang 2016, para. 6)

This line earnt Clinton a great deal of backlash from news outlets, fueling public perception of the in-authenticity of “crooked Hillary” (Engel 2016; Wolfgang 2016). Yet after analysing my own identity, I’ve come to appreciate Clinton’s words and the need to differentiate between what we keep private and what we allow others to see.

Upon conducting an analysis of my own online identity, I flicked back and forth between my public profiles searching for consistencies. In the end, I surmised into three adjectives the self I present to the public.

Alcy Meehan‘ created on Venngage.


I try to keep up daily contribution on the Twitter feed, by either posting or participating in conversation threads and ensure I give prompt responses when engaged. Though having only published one blog post, there is room for improvement.


The platforms that I’ve made public, despite being open for consumption, are all sites that give me inbuilt control of what gets directly connected to my name and homepages. Therefore, they allow me to appear open, but with a great level of control.


Whilst I do apply a level of formality on pages such as LinkedIn, more often the tone I adopt is a friendly one, and I usually invite direct discussion with others.

We’re constantly reminded of the permanency of the online world, explained well in this TedTalk. It interested me to see what essence of Alcy a Google search would yield. The first result that appeared was my LinkedIn profile, a comfort to know that if any employees where to be doing research, it would lead them there. Next, I found an array of articles from my local newspaper chronicling my attendance at leadership conventions, thus giving credibility to my leadership experience.

Tweets embedded from @AlcyMeehan profile. 

This brief search turned up quite a positive profile and I owe the absence of incriminating photos or content to my early understanding, in adolescence, of the internet’s immortality. Gabriel’s article challenges the negativity we associate with social media identity, especially in relation to youths cognitive and social growth. It is a populist idea that all teens have a limited capacity to reflect upon and pre-evaluate what they share. Gabriel instead argues, social media encourages early evaluation of self-concept and what identity teens want to project (2014 p. 105). This early understanding, I’ve demonstrated first hand, has now allowed me to continue ahead with a relatively respectable and professional online public identity, free of some great disaster…so far.

Despite all this my analysis did bring to attention the extent to which I undersell my career goal conviction. Adopting indecisive terms such as, “I don’t know what I want to do yet”, “I’m ready for multiple careers”, gave me an air of instability, a repellent for future employers. Therefore, I was prompted to change the language I was use when defining my goals to something more definitive, “I will continue to follow my passion for helping others by working in the field of

Screenshot of my page.

Six weeks in and this unit has encouraged me to take a more active awareness in my online presence. Updating my LinkedIn, display pictures and undertaking the follower culls, works toward ensuring I’m putting my best foot forward (it’s the left foot in case you were wondering). And no this isn’t insincere or fake, if I didn’t take a shower for a week or withhold some of the things I’d like to say, I’d never hear the end of it! So please, don’t judge when I add a filter or draft and redraft my tweets online.

(1,033 words, not including citations and captions).


Engel, P 2016, ‘Hillary Clinton defends her ‘public and private’ positions on issues’, Business Insider Australia, 10 October, retrieved 6 December 2016, <>.
Gabriel, F 2014, ‘Sexting, selfies and self-harm: Young people, social media and the performance of self-development’, Media International Australia, vol. 151, pp. 104-12, retrieved 6 December 2016, Sage Journals Online.
‘In the Eyes’ by Chris Combe available here under a Creative Commons Attribution.
‘Juan Enriquez: Your online life, permanent as a tattoo’ 2013, YouTube, TED, 2 May, 5 December 2016, <>.
Marshall, D 2010, ‘The promotion and presentation of the self: Celebrity as marker of presentational media’, Celebrity Studies, vol. 1, pp. 35-48, doi:10.1080/19392390903519057
Mazur, E & Li, Y 2016, ‘Identity and self-presentation on social networking websites: A comparison of online profiles of Chinese and American emerging adults’, Psychology of Popular Media Culture, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 101-18, retrieved 6 December 2016, PsycARTICLES.
Shaffer, D & Kipp, K 2010, Developmental psychology: Childhood and adolescence, 8th edn, Thomson Wadsworth, Belmont,­ CA.
Wolfgang, B 2016, ‘Clinton says she has ‘both a public and a private position’ on Wall Street: WikiLeaks release’, 8 October, retrieved 5 December 2016, <>.

My broader online activity

See Tiffit Tally, please!