Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A hypothetical prison proposed by Jeremy Bentham, having circular tiers of cells surrounding a central observation tower.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In astronomy, a kind of telescope and microscope combined.
  • noun A proposed prison of supervision, so arranged that the inspector can se each of the prisoners at all times without being seen by them: proposed by Jeremy Bentam.
  • noun An exhibition-room for novelties, etc.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A prison so contructed that the inspector can see each of the prisoners at all times, without being seen.
  • noun A room for the exhibition of novelties.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A type of prison designed by philosopher Jeremy Bentham wherein all the cells are visible from the center of the building. It engenders the feeling that someone is watching you, even though you know the contrary.
  • noun A room for the exhibition of novelties.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a circular prison with cells distributed around a central surveillance station; proposed by Jeremy Bentham in 1791
  • noun an area where everything is visible

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Earlier, a peepshow device used to exhibit pictures : pan– + Greek optikon, neuter of optikos, optic; see optic.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek "-opticon" for "observe" and "pan-" for "all".

Examples

  • A panopticon is a prison where everyone can see you; in the case of privacy it's a voluntary prison, one of choice.

    MIND MELD: Are We Headed For a Technological Panopticon?

  • Participation in most parts of the panopticon is by choice; sometimes these choices are inconvenient, but they are different paths just the same.

    MIND MELD: Are We Headed For a Technological Panopticon?

  • But if we accept the notion that the participatory panopticon is a likely consequence of otherwise desirable improvements to communication and information technologies, it becomes incumbent upon us to think of ways to use it as a tool for good.

    Smart Mobs » Blog Archive » Emerging participatory panopticon

  • A panopticon is a prison where everyone can see you; in the case of privacy it’s a voluntary prison, one of choice.

    Dusk Before the Dawn » 2008 » January

  • The panopticon is a worthy point of discussion as it does stretch into all parts of our life

    The Guardian World News

  • Italians are fighting back against the surveillance society with a grass roots project designed to publicise the location of CCTV cameras - and to "out" those that have been set up contrary to Italian Law., which was launched earlier this year, is a deliberate parody of the "panopticon" - an ideal prison first put forward by Jeremy Bentham in 1791.

    Signs of the Times

  • Italians are fighting back against the surveillance society with a grass roots project designed to publicise the location of CCTV cameras - and to "out" those that have been set up contrary to Italian Law., which was launched earlier this year, is a deliberate parody of the "panopticon" - an ideal prison first put forward by Jeremy Bentham in 1791.

    Signs of the Times

  • In all these ways an afternoon party such as this was something much more valuable than a vision of the past for it offered me something better than the successive pictures I had missed of the past separating itself from the present, namely, the relationship between the present and the past; it was like what used to be called a panopticon but a panopticon of years, a view not of a monument but of a person situated in the modifying perspective of

    Time Regained

  • Both groups are encouraging voters to use Twitter as a kind of panopticon of the polling process.

    Tweet the Vote! - Swampland - TIME.com

  • Here the executive mansion becomes a kind of panopticon, with each wing facing outward through a massive screen, like a TV set with just one channel.

    Extreme Makeover: White House Edition

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