An admirer of Franz Kafka’s once presented him with a specially bound volume of three of his stories. Kafka’s reaction was vehement: “My scribbling … is nothing more than my own materialization of horror,” he replied. “It shouldn’t be printed at all. It should be burnt.” At the same time, Kafka believed that he had no purpose in life other than writing: “I am made of literature,” he said, “and cannot be anything else.” Clearly, Kafka’s ambivalence about his work was an expression of deep uncertainty about himself. Did he have the right to inflict his dreadful imaginative visions on the world? “If one can give no help one should remain silent,” he mused. “No one should let his own hopelessness cause the patient’s condition to deteriorate.”
A data-driven “neighborhood of the future” masterminded by a Google corporate sibling, Toronto’s Quayside project could be a milestone in digital-age city building. But after a year of scandal in Silicon Valley, questions about privacy and security remain.