As I was reading this issue, I couldn’t help thinking about the results of the recent election. Political power can change quickly and the results can sometimes be drastic. Already, it looks like there will be changes in environmental policy that will have far-reaching effects. There is a section in this issue where the Doctor is contemplating the environmental destruction of a planet that was the result of a shift in government.
There was a shift in government, and the new rulers of the system decided that maintaining Rokhandi was an unnecessary expense. And let’s face it, they were right. I mean, what does a hummingbird provide, eh? What do candy lizards manufacture? What profit is there in a canyon that sings? So they sold it all. The friends of the rulers got first pick, of course. Lovely big bonuses all around. There were a few petitions, but there always are, aren’t there?
This is sad, but ever so true. I hate to sound cynical, but every time I see a petition going around Facebook I can’t help but think that it means nothing, and if anything, it is detrimental. Without trying to sound like a conspiracy nut, what do you think happens to your personal information when you sign a petition? It goes into a database somewhere and you are tagged.
I like to balance my cynicism with some optimism. Governments can quickly shift in the other direction, too. I have seen it happen in my lifetime. The pendulum swings both ways. I just hope that it never swings too far that it gets stuck.
This morning I read an article in Wired magazine about the NSA and how it nearly destroyed the Internet. (Click here to read the article online; or better yet, subscribe—it’s a great publication.) As I was reading the article, all I could think about was “why were we so surprised?” I mean, seriously. The Internet was originally Department of Defense technology. Did we really expect that information we post online would be kept secret? I never did. I fully expect that each online petition I sign, each article I read, every site I visit, each “like” on Facebook, is tracked in a database somewhere. If companies are doing this with cookies, you can be sure that the government is doing the same.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be upset about it—we should be. But we should not be surprised. I’m a dork, so I love the Internet and I love the abundance of information that the technology brings to my fingertips. I love that I can stream movies, download digital copies of arcane texts, instantly share pictures with my friends and family, and that I can discuss topics of interest with people like myself around the world. It’s awesome! But I also expect that the government will be able to access this information and that they will be able to construct a profile of the type of person I am, my interests, and my ideologies. That’s fine. I’m not concerned.
For those of you who are concerned, there are some amazing new technologies you can consider:
- Postal Service—This service allows you to write your thoughts on a piece of paper, hermetically seal it in an envelope, and send that to a specific individual and only that person can read it.
- Bookstores—These places allow you to buy printed material, no matter how subversive, and read it in the privacy of your own home. And if you use something called “money,” there is no record that you ever purchased or read it.
- Printed Photos—Who knew you could actually print out pictures and create your own book with them? You could call it, I don’t know, how about a photo album. Then, you can invite your friends over to your house, have a nice dinner, and look at them together.
Pretty cool, huh? 🙂