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I'm trying to identify a short story on which the Black Mirror episode "White Christmas" might have been based. Or at least is very similar.

In the story, the protagonist was regularly visiting a park (or was working in it), the same time every week. Each time he was there, he was looking at a woman, with similar schedule, he desperately tried to contact (or was in love with). The problem was, he was convicted of a minor transgression — which caused him to be blocked/blurred when seen by other people. Similar to the Black Mirror episode.

If I remember correctly, the woman didn't wear her AR lenses — which made her see him as a normal person. He knew that approaching the woman would be pointless, as he would only be able to talk to her until she put on her lenses.

The story might have ended with him approaching the woman. When strolling around the park, she decided put on her lenses, and saw her companion as blurred criminal. When he tried to explain to her that she shouldn't be afraid, she pushed him in panic, causing him to fall and hurting himself. She was convicted of assault and became blurred/blocked herself. In the closing paragraphs of the story, she was visiting the park the same way the man was doing — being blurred to other people.

The punch line of the story pointed to the extreme, cruel, and often unjust stigmatisation caused by the AR blurring.

The story was port of an scifi anthology. I'm wary of giving more details, as I'm not sure as how much of my recollection was biased by Black Mirror.

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    Hey, welcome to the site! This is a good start; do you think that could add any more details from this checklist to make it easier to identify? Thanks! – Mithical Feb 6 '18 at 11:50
  • "Pixel Face" by Jeff Noon, a story in Pixel Juice, features a kid whose face gets pixelated. But it doesn't match any further than that. – SQB Feb 6 '18 at 12:09
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AS @David posted, this sounds like David Brin's "Insistence of Vision," at least in most regards. "Insistence of Vision" is both the name of the short story, and the name of the collection. The Amazon preview for the collection, found here, contains the entire short story.

Like you said, everyone wears AR spectacles. The difference between what you said is that normal citizens can still see the criminals, with all of the information about them and their crimes, but the criminals will just see blurs instead of people. This is done, theoretically, to protect the innocent from violent criminals, who won't be able to see them and attack them, unless they choose to be seen.

As you said, the woman has taken her specs off, and so she isn't blurred out by the protagonists lenses. He approaches her pretty close to the start of the story, and they go for a walk. Eventually, she has to go back to work, and when she puts her specs back on, sees that he's a criminal. She takes his glasses, making him completely blind, and shoves him into traffic.

At the end of the story, the main protagonist has finished his sentence and is back to seeing everyone again, but the woman now has the tag "CONVICTED FELON" under her name when anyone looks at her with their AR glasses.

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  • That's exactly the story! Awesome! After reading it again, most of the details suddenly came back to me. Thanks a lot! – Halik Feb 7 '18 at 12:15
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This sounds like "Insistence of Vision" by David Brin. It was originally published in Twelve Tomorrows, an special sci-fi edition of MIT Technology Review.

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  • Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any reviews or summaries of the story's plot to link to, and it's short enough that it's difficult to excerpt. – David Feb 6 '18 at 17:08
  • Thats exactly the story I was looking for. Thanks David! – Halik Feb 7 '18 at 12:16

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