Paper accepted for publication in IEEE ISWC 2001, for being presented October 2001:

The Witnessential Net

Steve Mann and Robert Guerra

Corresponding author:
S. Mann
Assistant Mailroom Clerk
EXISTech Corporation
Facility Garden, 111 Shaukiwan Road, Unit 9A, Block 4, Hong Kong.


The Witnessential Network for the protection of Human Rights workers, and others who may be subjected to violence, is achieved through a new kind of imaging and hierarchical architecture having special properties ideal for defense against unaccountability of attackers. Incidentalist video capture and self-demotion are introduced as new collegial forms of defense against unaccountability. Results of various experiments conducted worldwide over the past 20 years, on the inventing, designing, building, and using of wearable photographic apparatus having these special properties are also described. Other fundamental concepts with respect to a Personal Safety Device suitable for Human Rights workers are introduced.


Protection of human rights, Accountability, Self demotion, Self bureaucratization, Personal Imaging, Augmented Reality (AR), Mediated Reality, Human Rights, Witnessential Network.

Introduction: The need for Witnessential Computing

There have been previous attempts to equip Human Rights workers with hand-held cameras so that they can document violence, and many of these attempts have even been backed with massive corporate funding:
  We began when Amnesty International
  invited us to be the sole sponsor of Human
  Rights Now!, a 1988 world concert tour
  which reached millions of young people on
  five continents.
  In partnership with musician Peter Gabriel and the
  Lawyers Committee for Human Rights we founded
  Witness, a program that equips frontline
  activists with hand-held video cameras to
  document human rights abuses.
Unfortunately, in many situations, the mere presence of a video camera results in immediate violence directed to a person with a camera. Thus hand-held cameras often serve to provoke rather than deter violence.
For more information on the Witnessential Network, visit a brief description of the Witnessential project.
The Witnessential project is also described, in detail, in the book, Cyborg: Digital Destiny and Human Possibility in the Age of the Wearable Computer.