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Charlie Chaplin had invented an earlier version of Big Brother

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Have you ever read George Orwell’s “1984” book ? In those times of global surveillance, Big Data and massive hidden data collection processes, everyone’s talking about Big Brother but few actually know what it is. Last year I finally made time to read “1984” and was not disappointed; except perhaps that Big Brother is not as much personified as I expected.
One invention that really struck me (pardon me for my candidness) was the telescreen, the instrument through which surveillance of people was operated. Telescreens were installed everywhere to monitor behaviors and capture opinions. With connected devices this Orwell’s vision has become reality within 30 years from his book’s publication.
I was surprised to find a much earlier occurrence of telescreens some 50 years before Orwell’s book. As soon as 1936 Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times were already featuring a plant’s director monitoring his employees and giving instructions through giant screens. The scene where Chaplin goes to the bathroom to take a break and smoke a cigarette is most ressemblant of a dystopian reality.


Charlie Chaplin trying to sneak in a cigarette break at work (Modern Times 1936)


Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Pierre-Nicolas est Docteur en Marketing et dirige l'agence d'études de marché IntoTheMinds. Ses domaines de prédilection sont le BigData l'e-commerce, le commerce de proximité, l'HoReCa et la logistique. Il est également chercheur en marketing à l'Université Libre de Bruxelles et sert de coach et formateur à plusieurs organisations et institutions publiques. Il peut être contacté par email, Linkedin ou par téléphone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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