George Orwell’s novel “1984” grips the reader into a world where the government has total surveillance of all citizens and an unprecedented social public mind control. Published in 1949, technology was just a canvas for Orwell’s imagination. He could have no evidence to fear that the current state of affairs would ever truly match his intuitive prose. “Big Brother” (a term coined by Orwell in “1984” which then became an actual social state and part of our vernacular) is a reality TV/game show that had it’s 15th season last Summer. The show, which spans the globe with versions, is always a hit in the U.S. All three of its weekly episodes are very frequently in the top ten Nielsen ratings for that week all season long. What appears to be the perfect case study for how everyday people interact with each other as they compete for money could also be just a smaller version of real life as we know it today. The TV show has become life in fast forward. We are all currently in a rat race to acquire either as much money as we can or as much as we need to survive during these trying times while being silently watched… and every single move of ours captured, studied and dissected. The cast members lie, promise, beg and form instant “relationships” with absolutely no contact with the outside world. Facebook, the internet, texting and TV/Celebrity/Media obsession have made the majority of American citizens full time real-life cast members but at the end of this show there is no $500,000 prize.
1. Big Brother: Art Imitates Life.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web. W3C tries to enforce compatibility and agreement among industry members in the adoption of new standards defined by the W3C. Incompatible versions of HTML are offered by different vendors, causing inconsistency in how Web pages are displayed. The consortium tries to get all those vendors to implement a set of core principles and components which are chosen by the consortium. This is all good. But lately they’ve been pushing to make code and structures behind websites more difficult for people see, and they are also pushing to make it illegal to play around with these things – which is how we have so many advances in the first place. Part of the reason for this tendency to be more closed is so that website coders can allow marketing companies, corporations, and governments to monitor what you do.
Cory Docorow says it best: http://mostlysignssomeportents.tumblr.com/post/72759474218/we-are-huxleying-ourselves-into-the-full-orwell
2. Net Neutrality is Over
Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication. Until recently, the FCC required Internet service providers to operate under this principle, and some governments have considered making it a law. In the US, internet and telecom companies want to assert the right to create a “tiered” model to their service. This can work in two ways. First, the user will have to pay one price to have “standard internet” and another price to have “premium internet” in terms of both what content is permitted and also how quickly things load. Second, the service providers will charge certain websites more money. This can either be because they use more bandwidth, or – *gulp* – because they support the providers business, political, and personal rivals. Don’t take our word for it:
There are many who say it’s not as bad as it seems, and perhaps they are right: http://www.policymic.com/articles/79633/remember-that-epic-court-ruling-that-killed-net-neutrality-well-almost-everyone-got-it-wrong But the worry is that once you chip away at this a little bit, it’s only a matter of time before there is no more free internet, and hosting a website will cost as much as opening a brick & mortar business on Main Street. Then, imagine how quickly it might extend to the government preventing people from seeing things on the internet that they don’t want them to see, or perhaps just flagging site visits for use later. As life has shown you, once Americans get the wrecking ball rolling, we can’t stop and we won’t stop.
It has now been revealed that the U.S. government is collecting information on everything that everyone does on their phones and on the internet. This is not an exaggeration: everything that everyone does: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/31/nsa-top-secret-program-online-data. We know this as a direct result of the Edward Snowden leaks: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/multimedia/timeline-edward-snowden-revelations.html. We as citizens seem to be exhibiting that we either don’t really believe it or don’t really care enough to be worried. Not when there are too many other real world problems: Kanye West beat someone up and Justin Bieber got arrested. It’s not just the U.S., either. Most countries with the capability are doing this, as well. But we live here and we have to be aware of the reality. Corporations have been doing all this for a while- with cookies and Adware programs in place so they can focus what they market to you. Depending on the country you live in, you’re either living in “1984” – http://books.google.com/books/about/1984.html?id=yxv1LK5gyV4C ; –
or a “Brave New World”- http://books.google.com/books?id=niDNtZoYsAUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=brave+new+world&hl=en&sa=X&ei=0x_lUqbXK4zNsQSSh4LIDA&ved=0CCoQ6wEwAA#v=onepage&q=brave%20new%20world&f=false ;
or a scary mix of both – http://biblioklept.org/2013/06/08/huxley-vs-orwell-the-webcomic-2/.
George Orwell guessed that 1984 would be the time of this imminent future. He was thirty years off. So what happened in the thirty year gap? Well, as our brains and minds were numbed with technology and entertainment, our book stores were closed, our physical education was cut, our school budgets were destroyed, and our food supply became poison. It’s not very hard to paint by numbers.
To sum it up, folks: these three things in conjunction are a very bad sign. (1) The internet designers and creators are in bed with (2) corporations who are trying to rig the game and get as much money as possible, and (3) the government would be stupid if they didn’t get in on this action and spy on everything everyone does. Hold on, we think there’s a knock at the door…