Never forget that you are but one mistake from being a nobody

17 09 2014
My Amazon author page!!!!

Their next move was to put a lot of us onto the terror watch list that was now shared among countries. It made it harder to move around the world and commit acts of terror. Their mistake was in not getting all of us on that list.

A faction formed that no longer wanted this to be peaceful. Calling themselves the new American Patriots they began blowing up input stations. So the police doubled and tripled the guard around the facilities.

The rest of us stayed in the shadows. Once they caught you then you were gone. We never saw anyone again that was captured. We assumed the worst (dead).

Some of us started tagging public buildings. “Images are but memories lost” and “see it, feel it, don’t forget” everywhere that there weren’t cameras. They were careful after the camera riots. The underground had created an application that tracked the location so they moved instead to drones. Always in the air looking down at people. They were much harder to track than the stationary cameras. The wi-fi bombs only worked if they came close to the ground and after awhile they stopped. Less clarity of the images from height was to our advantage. They couldn’t identity us as quickly and react with attacks.

The mouse stayed moving but the cat got to many of us over time. We lost good people to a war we shouldn’t have had to fight. The national photo database was a sham. It was always the intent to enforce a larger scheme. Control was the goal of the system and control they got.

Death in the end was the result.

In 2033 the obscure technology leaked from the underground. It was a simple chip that once placed on a person obscured their image from the system. At first we only had a few, 10,000 or so. But we started building them in earnest. Placing them in everything, food, clothing and even buildings. They couldn’t react against civilians that were simply wearing a chip. It was simply a chip that created a field around a person. That field altered the aspect of them and make them look like anyone. So we generated 300 million images of the president. What could they do?

As quietly as it appeared in 2034 they shut the national picture registry down. They forgave all that rebelled and the concept of personal freedom pushed back to nearly where it had been before. They didn’t take down the camera’s and the drones still flew.

But they didn’t have everyone’s picture.

None of the people lost from the system were ever found. No mass grave. No burial plot. No record and in the end no body. Just a memory on a printed picture of a person with no records in the system.

We copied those pictures. We put them everywhere. We called them the nobodies. Never forget that you are but one mistake from being a nobody was the slogan.

Never forget.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

A game of cat and mouse….

16 09 2014
My Amazon author page!!!!

In the end a lot of us disappeared that first day. The mistake they made was when they deleted us from the system we were ghosts. So they couldn’t track us. At least they couldn’t track us with the public system. We found out later that the drones had a separate system.

Living underground is hard. Some of us got a little bold and tried to blend in. That was when we learned about the drones. They picked off the bold ones quickly. So we hugged the walls and stayed in the shadows. We found that hacking the edges of the system would slow down the recognition system on the streets. We could dump 100,000 pictures into the system quickly and then a bunch of us could move to a new location.

That quickly became 200,000 pictures and well you get the picture. The good news of them speeding up the system for us meant we were exposed for less time. We had collections with millions of pictures and never went above the level needed to swamp the system.

We waited in the shadows.

There were still places they didn’t have camera’s. We learned those places. Places where bad things happened and the police didn’t want to know.

And we fought.

Dr. King and Gandhi had taught us that non-violence was the only way to conduct civil disobedience and we followed that. For the most part we followed that. We learned quickly that bombs and other devices that destroyed collection stations didn’t do us any good. Violence begat more violence from the police.

It was a giant game of chess. Moves were being made all the time. On our side the moves they made were people. We made moves against the system as much as we could. Subtle moves often. Camera’s that couldn’t be moved automatically we would knock a little every day changing their aspect and view.

We created devices that emitted powerful wi-fi signals. You couldn’t be near it when it went on they would find you very quickly. But we could release it near a drone and it would take the drone off-line for a time.

A game of cat and mouse….


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

no one would ever find us again…

15 09 2014
My Amazon author page!!!!

Some of us, small numbers always started meeting occasionally the topic of missing people would be whispered. If they had video surveillance they had audio as well. Spies could be in our midst. We vetted new people very carefully.

Its hard to stay underground when they know who you are, where you are and what you are doing most of the time. We met at the usual gatherings of collectors. People had begun calling us that just before we started so we grabbed that and began gathering. As collectors we were image hoarders anyway. We started doubling the pictures we were taking, still submitting 3000 a month but taking 20,000 or more each.

The plan began to take shape. Each of us would overload the system with images of missing people. People that were no longer in the system. Plus 1000’s of useless images that would clog up the system so that processing would not be able to find us in time. We would quickly move from location to location. We figured we would each get 3 chances at uploads at most in the initial 3 hours. Then the next wave would start while the first wave went to ground.

What else could we do?

Desperate times called for desperate measures. You see we had figured out why those people were missing. They didn’t exist anymore. Agents had removed them. 100’s of people a day during the camera riots. 1000’s a year since the program started.

if you have control over who exists and you own the system that is the only validation they exist its easy to make someone disappear.

All around the country collectors were preparing to break the system that provided them with food and shelter. Biting as the old adage goes the hand that fed them.

The system had been originally designed to take between 1 and 2 million pictures a day (we were cautioned to never upload more than 5000 in a day.) Our hacker friends told us the system had been upgraded twice at least since the implementation. The new cap on new pictures was now 3 million a day. We figured we would be adding between 5 and 6 million pictures in the first hour and then every hour thereafter.

As a system it was designed to scan, recognize and then post every picture. It was searching for the facial characteristics that make a person. Your cheek bones, a retinal scan and finally the outline of your head. You could change your cheek bones but the outline would require breaking your own skull which wasn’t an option for us.

We all knew in our last collectors meeting that in the end we were going to die. There was no way the system would fall over from 10 or 20 times the volume. They would catch us, find us and then no one would ever find us again.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

It was looking like there was no way out…

14 09 2014
My Amazon author page!!!!

I thought about how I could safely resubmit the pictures to the system without getting caught. I ended up hiring a young hacker who was good at covering his tracks. He got them in, got the same error I did but they couldn’t trace it to either him or me.

They did end up raiding the dry cleaning shop in New Jersey the hacker told me he was going to use as the final submission spot. He ended up using that dry cleaners in Jersey, then he used a bakery in Philadelphia and the last place was a sporting goods store in Seattle Washington. The same error every time. In each case the police raided the stores we submitted. The last two we submitted the picture of the owner from the dry cleaning shop. He came up as not in the system.

That was when we realized something bad was happening. You see the dry cleaner in Jersey had poor network security at his shop but he was also carefully selected. He lived alone but he was in the system when we picked him. He wanted in the system nor was the baker in Philly after the raids.

With the 3rd one the hacker fled the country. He wanted no part of what I was doing. I suspect if I had been smart I would have wanted no part of what I was doing, either.

We had built the system. Hoping to remove children from Milk Cartons we had armed the government with the right to find anyone and the tools to do so. You couldn’t hide. The only way plastic surgery could change you enough that they couldn’t recognize you would be to break every bone in your face, reset them off a fractional amount and send you back out in the world.

But then your eyes would give you away. So you would have to wear sunglasses everywhere as well. They would have to modify your ears, the skin in your neck, your fingerprints and the structure of your face.


Long surgical process.

In the end no guarantee of success. Plus pain for the rest of your life with mis-set bones in your face.

You could in the end move into the various national parks that were left. Hopefully surviving on your cunning and hunting skills or you could flee the country.

But most countries had these citizen protection systems now. It felt like there was no way out…


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Trains, now planes and automobiles

13 09 2014
My Amazon author page!!!!

At first the advertising was all about missing children. Pictures taken from Milk Cartoons and shown in public places. Kidnappers and horrible people were arrested. It was effective.

People started pouring pictures into the drop sites on the internet. Thousands of pictures with the names of everyone in their family. Parents shouting “my kids are in you can’t steal my kids” on the streets. Congressman swamped as they came home for their breaks “speed it up. Speed it up.” The chants on the streets of America.

It wasn’t big brother. It was saving our children. It was making sure that if grandpa had Alzheimer’s he would never be lost. People didn’t even care that the number of camera’s doubled and then tripped and beyond. Camera’s everywhere that there was anything.

In 2025 people like me started appearing. Our jobs initially was to take pictures everywhere we went where there were groups of people. We uploaded those into the system. It was a living wage. A 1000 people images a month and you had enough for an apartment and 3 meals a day. 2000 and you could buy a car. 3000 a month and you could take vacations.

The first time it happened was 2025. “That is not an image of a user in the system.” I just assumed then he was someone that no one took pictures of.

I noticed however that it started happening more often as I got behind in pictures. I was taking 5000 to 7000 pictures of people a month. You were only allowed to submit 3000 so I kept a store in my apartment and uploaded my 3000 a month.

During the camera riots in 2027 I took 12000 pictures. It took me 2 years to get to the point that I was uploading those pictures. People throwing rocks and anything they could find at the police.

It started coming up more and more. Lots of people in the crowd that had thrown things came up not in the system. I started using the personal version of the database to scan all my pictures. The people that day that were in the front of the mob didn’t exist anymore.

I went back to Queens where I had taken the pictures during the riots. I took 30000 pictures in the space of a 10 day period. Trying to find the people that had in those uploaded images that no longer existed. I couldn’t find them.

It was as if not only were they not in the system but they didn’t exist.

I decided to reload them. Put the pictures back into the system by reloading them and request a system check…


IASA Fellow

No one would ever be lost again…

12 09 2014
My Amazon author page!!!!

The first time it happened I didn’t give it much thought. Hell the national picture database was two maybe three years old at the time. I hadn’t needed it until then when I found the picture I had taken a while ago.

I guess in the end it was an odd error. I know it was odd now, because I remembered it when I saw it again about a year after the first time.

“That is not an image of a user in the system.”

Its not that I don’t think about people or wonder where they are. It was simply a machine returning an error that the person wasn’t in the system.

No big deal.

Millions of pictures go into the national registry every year. Pictures of people smiling, pictures of people frowning. Pictures of people at weddings and funerals, the birth of a child. Baby’s first picture. Baby with the dog. The cat and Uncle Joe.

With the advent of digital pictures back in the last century it became DE rigor to simply document your life. But the system wasn’t perfect in the early days. When the national picture act passed in 2022 everyone was nervous at first.

Hell the government was mandating we pass along our craven images to them for storage. It was meant to reduce terrorism originally. Everyone in the world ultimately would be in the database. Facial recognition and other components of the solution would make it impossible to modify the core basis of you.

I remember the original commercial, they input the pictures of a man who had been in a horrible accident and ended up having a face transplant. The system matched his pictures with no problem before and after. They said it was to protect us in the end. You know a safe keeping of digital assets.

Images of everyone in the world someday they kept saying. No one would ever be lost again.


IASA Fellow

Sorry the image submitted is of a person that never existed…

11 09 2014
My Amazon author page!!!!

The concept of digital dissonance. As we progress through the slides of my father and grandfather (scanning) we have hit 2500 slides. Of those now digital images many of them are of places I remember or my mother and sisters remember.

There are a growing number that are of people, places and moments of time that are lost forever.

In the pre-digital days we took pictures of people. My mom/dad has somewhere around 15000 to maybe 20000 pictures overall. At this point a little over half (9200 slides of which 2500 are scanned) and 2000 digital pictures) will be or are digital now. In the 58 or so years dad owned a camera (he was the primary shutter bug) dad took a high end estimate of 344 pictures a year.

Of those 344 per year there are the growing number of lost in time/lost in space photos. We have found between 60-100 already (out of 2500). The reality of the modern dissonance is much larger. Where the cost of those 344 pictures per year (or roughly 10-12 rolls of film $20 per roll for film + developing or 200 to 250 dollars a year). In the end the cost kept the number of pictures down.

In the digital age 344 pictures a year isn’t even in the realm of minor. Sorry dad. I take 344 pictures using my cellular phone a year. On average over the past 33 years (going back to before I had a digital camera – I have roughly 2000 physical pictures and 86000 digital pictures not counting my father’s. Puts me an an average of 2600 images take per year. Adding in the 3000 or so in my Apple Photo stream that were never moved into my digital collection (cellular phone pictures) and you see there is a growing issue.

If we assume that there is an unknown person rate of 100 people per 1000 pictures my father will have between 1000 and 2000 people and places we won’t be able to identify. I will have between 10,000 and 20,000 or more unknown people and places by the time I catch up to dad (in another 25 years of picture taking).

I am the edge of the diaspora. My children grew up at the edge (Jakki) and fully immersed in (the boys) the digital age. I wonder how many moments they will capture that will remain frozen on the hard drive but in the end lost forever.

Someday the reality of facial recognition will replace the family tree research. You will submit a picture with a person you don’t recognize to a national database and it will tell you who they are.

Or worse it will tell you that person never existed. (I feel a serial story coming on).


IASA Fellow


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