Spying
I tend to feel like a spy 1/2 of the time I am awake and outside of my house. Things I could justify by calling it spying:
Any waste of time, ethically questionable act, quick scam, jail time, visit to a religious facility, dating a right-winger, attend a lame protest, or just about any day job.

If these acts really are not spying, then maybe I am just a tourist and maybe I should take more responsibility for how I spend my time.

Spies like us?
In a recent conversation with my friend Emily Forman, we talked about our experiences going into spaces that have programmed or specific uses and either observing them secretly or participating under false pretenses. Emily talked about her experience of simply walking into the McCormick Place convention center on the near Southside of Chicago and spending hours walking around and meeting strangers involved in the production of massive temporary events known as trade shows. Of course by being present in this space, the strangers made some assumptions about Emily's right to be present, to have access, move through, and make observation of this space.

I have had similar experiences trying to obtain copies of advertisements used on the "L" trains, trying to interview crew members of Mayor Daley's Graffiti Blasters, and get onto rooftops.

Are we actually skilled spies? Is this something that we could take further? Or is it just a necessary part of research? Could we achieve similar or more efficient results by being more direct? In many cases, the answer is yes, but there is something to asking questions that you don't have specific use for the answers. In traditional spying, this kind of experimental research is not permitted. It is too risky to blow your cover asking strange questions that don't have specific goals. Can we even qualify as spies then?

 

- Daniel Tucker