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

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

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

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

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

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

Just In