There have been two incidents recently, “big man” and the “tram rant”, where a member of the public has videoed a disturbance of sorts and it ending up being seen widely and the police getting involved.

Twenty years or so ago, the Rodney King beating video was a sensation. Now, with half the population owning smartphones, and most of them having video recording abilities, its clear there are interesting times ahead.

The police already routinely film the view from traffic cars, and YouTube is full of cyclists’ footage from helmet cams.

Imagine a scenario where people start routinely filming, storing or even live streaming from wearable cameras. It won’t be long before they’re cheap as chips and as discreet as a button. We could all be constantly filming our own CCTV.

What would that mean? People recording all their conversations with officials or colleagues; footballers all mic’d up to capture episodes of abusive language (or prove innocence thereof)?

Given we all routinely say things we haven’t thought through, or didn’t really mean, there’ll be a lot of sticky situations and a lot of messy legal and social ramifications to work through.

Everyone having a kind of personal black box recorder is quite a potent thought, and doesn’t feel good for society. However, the kind of routine sharing that happens on Twitter and Facebook would have been similarly unpalatable just 10 years ago.

Maybe it’s not Big Brother we ought to be wary of, but his distributed younger sibling.