Walls, bridges, toilet surfaces - they were all the ancestors of online rating sites. But there was one major difference between the walls of a public restroom and the forum of an online site. For all their communitarian puff, peer-to-peer ratings of human beings are fuelled by the oldest motivation of all: money.
The answer to our surveillance dilemma lies in targeted surveillance, a warrant process overseen by the judiciary, an annual parliamentary public scrutiny of the security services, legislated protections for the professional privileges of doctors and lawyers and, most of all, a proper and lengthy public debate void of vague and fear inducing inferences to terror plots and criminal gangs.
I am fortunate enough to have 'real life' friends, from when I was growing up ('Village Friends'), school friends, university friends, college friends, work friends, friends of friends and now, since emigrating, Swedish friends. But thrown into that heady mix are online friends, online friends who have become 'real life' friends and 'real life' friends who are now just online friends.
The phrase "Cities of the Future" conjures up so many different images, from the utopia of The Jetsons to the dystopia of Judge Dredd. But one thing that most agree on is the connected nature of our cities, with every aspect of life being connected to the internet, machines communicating with machines and with us.
I'm not going to pontificate on the evils of technology because I'm even getting bored of myself going on about that. If people want to bubble-wrap themselves against the dangers and difficulties that make travelling such a beautiful thing then I say let them. I'll stick to the old fashioned way, one hand outstretched, a beer in the other and I'll probably start with something like "Hi".