Cloudy with a Chance of Totalitarianism

by Robert Wright

This NY Times op-ed by Jonathan Zittrain about the perils of “cloud computing” has gotten some buzz, but not enough, I think. It raises the question of whether moving our software and content from the desktop to the "cloud" could make it easier for authoritarian governments to control the flow of information. In this light, Amazon’s recent deletion of Orwell's work from Kindles everywhere shifts from amusingly to ominously ironic. I’ve long argued that microelectronic technology has naturally decentralizing effects on power, and I’m convinced that this has been its upshot to date in places like China. Indeed, Orwell’s 1984, which envisioned video staying under the sort of centralized control that TV started out with, has in that sense proved way off. (Huxley’s Brave New World got more stuff right.) But who knows? Maybe Orwell will have the last, bitterly ironic, laugh. This is one of the most important questions of our time, and Zittrain’s op-ed is just the beginning of the conversation.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Just In