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This experiment would have been equally disturbing to people had he done everything the same but not held a camera. The camera is not what is creeping people out.

If I was in a classroom and someone came and stood five feet away and just told me they were watching me, I would be on edge as well.

Yes, the dynamic he's creating is different from what we experience with security cameras for at least two reasons: He's getting into people's personal space, and he's clearly focusing on individual people.

But what if he did neither of these things? What if he instead sat on a bench, set up a tripod, put on a wide lens, and recorded everything happening in a crowded public space? My guess is that people wouldn't react as strongly. But I wonder how they would feel. What do you think?

In the UK? It depends. Any children anywhere around and he'd be in for a hard time. Unlucky with the police officers he got? He'd be in for a hard time. Not great with the answers he gives? He'd be in for a hard time.

Photography in public is one of those topics that opens the door to armchair lawyers. People who have no training and little knowledge who just make stuff up off the top of their heads.

Interestingly in the UK there are specific exemptions for journalists. I'm not sure how tightly defined journalists are; there are press badges and journalistic qualifications, but that feels like a little bit of law that hasn't caught up with the Internet.

Exactly. I hate how he's pretending to make some elaborate statement, but in reality is just being childish and annoying.

I mean, he is making an elaborate statement. People don't yell at him because he's standing there, they yell at him because he's filming them. He's not breaking any law (except for arguably when he keeps entering the Church of Scientology), and is exercising his liberties.

The words "childish" and "annoying" are dangerous to throw around here, because it creates a culture of non-acceptance and weirdness for someone who is doing nothing wrong. This is how liberties erode.

Not doing anything wrong legally perhaps, but it definitely goes against common social norms. Notice most people don't actually yell at him, but just ask him what he's doing and ask him (politely) to leave. It's only when he doesn't, that people get upset.

I guess he's just "exercising his liberties", but that doesn't make it elaborate. Unless pointing out that people don't like awkwardness is all of sudden an elaborate statement.

Beyond any notion of it being a protest against the concept of a surveillance society, it's actually quite an interesting social experiment.

The responses are fascinating. A lot of people quick to anger. Many more people who have some — I'm assuming, although I'm no expert on the law in the particular area — false impression that they cannot be filmed without their permission. An alarming number of people who are prepared to call 911 over such a trivial matter.

I've never seen anything quite like this before.

It's also interesting that some people thought he was impeding one of their rights when really it was the other way around.

Did you see the bit where he walks among an orchestra?

How well would you work if I stood quite close to you, behind you, looking over your shoulder. "Ignore me! I'm just observing. Pretend I'm not here." I suspect many people would find that disturbing in a deep and hard to define way.

He's not doing anything illegal, but that doesn't mean he's not doing anything wrong. He is being rude, and he is confrontational.

Let's put it this way: he's not violating any legal rules, but he is violating some social rules. Whether that's doing something "wrong" or not is subjective, I think.

You are projecting.

Just because that is your approach, doesn't mean that it's true for him.

Exactly, it's a faulty analogy. A person with a camera is an immediate threat to react to. People are well aware of cameras in supermarkets, yet they still go inside.

Because in that case they have no choice. They want to get whatever the store has. Here they can argue with the person taking the video. In fact, the video taker is specifically targeting them, which raises only more questions for the subjects being filmed.

Maybe it's some sort of evolutionary fear, like when a lion keeps staring at the antelope

Also, it violates our sense of fairness. A security camera is watching everyone equally. Suppose we do the same with 1000 cameramen following 1000 people in the same square, how would people react?

Of course it would be equally disturbing, but what I find disturbing is that any wall-mounted camera could have someone behind it as well. In fact, it could be on display on some URL (google for "google hacks camera").

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