For those to whom the name in the headline is unfamiliar, you might recognize the associated alias: George Orwell. But whichever you use, it would be handy to remember his anti-Utopia 1984, because a recent spat on the blog Boing-Bloing
is making it practically relevant. You can check the link for the quasi-sordid details (one of the involved parties is a sex columnist of notably ribald sensibilities), but after some kind of falling out, one of Boing-Boing's bloggers removed all mention of the other woman's pen name. The New York Times passed on some interesting questions from the blog's readers:
But the Boing Boing readership certainly viewed it as an act taken on behalf of the Web site. Was Boing Boing deceiving its loyal audience by silently deleting the material, even if no one noticed the absences until a year later? What does it even mean to deceive an audience when it comes to a catalog of one’s personal writings? And does popularity convey different responsibilities to the people who produce a Web site?
The twist, of course, is that for nearly everyone who lives with what the Internet says about them, being unpublished would seem a dream come true. Those photographs from the frat party can be unpublished? Who knew? The essay to the Mickey Mouse Fan Club, too?
How about a few steps further. What if there comes a time when more and more people relied on the Internet and not books, newspapers, and magazines? And what if, unlike more permanent forms of publishing, all that information could be whisked away in a moment? Such an ability would make the Ministry of Truth's job a breeze. Forbid caching sites (like the Wayback Machine
) and trust that over time, people would succumb to laziness and simply look online for the most authoritative and "latest" information. Doesn't sound that much different from today, does it?
Labels: censorship, literature, Orwell