Lovely Merc

Saw this in Edinburgh a couple of days back – a lovely Cosworth-engineered old Mercedes. Sadly not one of the crazy ones with the massive spoiler, but certainly a formidable car back in its day. In lovely condition too…

Mint old Merc

The fact my iPod has a camera on it makes snapping curious cars all the easier when I’m out and about. I make a point of always having the most basic phone I can (I guess it’s a kind of attention-seeking mechanism or something) so my phone’s photo-taking device produces rank-rotten images. Having the camera on the iPod thus allows me to take decent pics without having to lug a camera around. And in case you’re wondering why I hate fancy phones yet still have something that is effectively an iPhone without the phone, I got it for free when I bought my Mac. So there.

There is a wider issue around image recording technology on portable devices that I’ve been thinking about. It was something that really hit home after the Japan earthquake, when the news channels showed dozens and dozens of videos that folk had shot on their phones or iPods. It came across again earlier today, when I read a news story about a hole that had opened up in the roof of a Boeing 737 mid-flight. Nobody was seriously hurt and the plane managed to land swiftly and safely, but the report was replete with shots taken inside the plane of the oxygen masks popping down and the sun beaming in through the hole. These photos were not credited to Reuters or AP as one might expect, but rather to the names of individuals who were presumably rank-and-file passengers. What seems to be happening is that more and more often, Joe Public’s response to an emergency is not to rush to protect one’s life at all costs, but rather to factor into the dash for self-preservation the desire to make a recording of events as they unfold.

It is something I myself have been on the receiving end of. On a flight into London Heathrow in January, our plane encountered moderate to strong crosswinds as it prepared to land. Although there was no real danger, the jet see-sawed from left to right and left to right as it lowered, leading to a few concerned looks in the cabin. Instead of being petrified at the thought of ending up upside-down and ablaze in Northolt, I decided to whip out the ‘Pod, stick it into video camera mode and get recording. Given that I am still here writing this, it goes without saying that nothing happened, but it does beg deeper questions of how technology alters our perception of – and response to – potential danger. What is it that makes some of us now want to take out our phones and film things like tsunamis, earthquakes and plane problems? Is it the potential to make a quick buck by selling the footage to CNN? Is it some kind of deep-seated desire to bear witness to catastrophic events? Or is it just a case of doing it to show that we can do it with the technology we have? Who knows. There’s a PhD or six in there for sure though…

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