The Iconography of Cops on the Beat – Real and Virtual

12 09 2007

hello-kitty.jpg

Don’t know what to make of this story:

BEIJING (AP) — Police in China’s capital said Tuesday they will start patrolling the Web using animated beat officers that pop up on a user’s browser and walk, bike or drive across the screen warning them to stay away from illegal Internet content.

Maybe that should read “police in China said they will start placing icons on users’ screens to remind them that they are being watched,” since these cutesy police images don’t do any actual ‘patrolling.’

The Chinese Web is fundamentally unfree, in stark contrast to our own … right? Without net neutrality, gatekeepers will have as much power as the Chinese government.

Or do they already? Look what AT&T did with Eddie Vedder, after all.

That wasn’t very good timing on their part, given the debate currently underway about “controlling the pipes.” But, at least they don’t use icons.

Speaking of police and icons, here’s an interesting social experiment:

It is the pink armband of shame for wayward police officers, as cute as can be with a Hello Kitty face and a pair of linked hearts.

No matter how many ribbons for valor a Thai officer may wear, if he parks in the wrong place, or shows up late for work, or is seen dropping a bit of litter on the sidewalk, he can be ordered to wear the insignia.

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