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Tagging technology – is the future bright?

Tagging technology – is the future bright?

An invitation to think about where this technology might go and about its implications

Public Workshop 10 May 2010, 1-5 pm at ‘Inspace’ on Crichton Street, Edinburgh

More and more technologies are being developed to be ‘tagged’ to a person or object so that information about them can be recorded on a remote data base and read by third parties. This technology has the potential to influence all of our lives. Some applications appear harmless enough – such as the bar codes on products in shops – but others are raising concerns about privacy and surveillance. How do you feel about councils tagging wheelie bins in order to monitor what people are throwing out, for example? Or about the planned national identity cards? Yet other potential uses of tagging technology seem exciting. What if you could tag every object in your house so that you would never lose something ever again? Or if you could attach a memory to objects so that their stories are passed down through family generations? Maybe such developments could provide much needed help to people suffering from memory loss, increase our awareness of our own history or enhance our experiences of museums and galleries.

What’s in it for you?
Are you worried about tagging technologies or excited about future possible applications? Or do you simply want to find out more about the technology and/or possible implications? Whether you are someone who might benefit from tagging technology or want to find effective ways to protect privacy with the technology or are involved in developing new applications or just plain interested – we invite you to participate in a public event on the subject on Monday 10 May in Edinburgh.

The event will take the form of an interactive workshop, and include a technical demonstration of one type of tagging technology, called RFID, plus a film about possible dangers associated with it. This is an opportunity not only to find out more about the technology and consider what wider implications there may be; it is also a rare opportunity to shape the technology in some modest way – by contributing to the debate about possible problems and to opening up ideas about possible future developments.

Who is organising the event?
The event has been organised by TOTeM - the people behind the site which you may of noticed mentioned here on digital urban recently. Through this event we want to better understand how diverse groups view technologies like RFID, and to encourage constructive criticism and ideas for future developments. This will help inform our research, and form the basis of a publication on public perceptions of new tagging technology.

We would also like to thank John Welford from NO2ID Edinburgh for his guidance on privacy and surveillance issues. NO2ID Edinburgh is one of many local groups across the UK campaigning against the introduction of compulsory ID cards and a National Identity Register.

Places are free but limited so if you would like to come please contact Jane Macdonald: Tel: 0131 221 6187 or email

We would love to get conversations going in the lead up to the event and after so if you have any initial feedback on the topic or indeed on the event itself then please do visit our blog

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