Friday, August 23, 2013

When the lights go out

Groklaw announced its own termination as a blog, another light going out following Lavabit and others.  I can't speak for Lavabit, which I never used because I never thought that my banal communications needed hiding.  Only occasionally I read Groklaw, but from my limited use its existence was proof that the web is not just for porno, lightweight thinking and Facebook chatter.  It was insightful and interesting, in its own way as TED conferences are.  It made me think.

In its closing post it made me think, a lot. I could feel the pain of its author Pamela Jones, her bewilderment at what we have become as a nation and where we are going, how we are losing our basic right to be left alone, the psychological independence of solitude.

In her post she made me recall a famous book,  a real story staged in the recent past of only 70 years ago - from the Groklaw post:

One way of beginning to understand privacy is by looking at what happens to people in extreme situations where it is absent. Recalling his time in Auschwitz, Primo Levi observed that "solitude in a Camp is more precious and rare than bread." Solitude is one state of privacy, and even amidst the overwhelming death, starvation, and horror of the camps, Levi knew he missed it....

And then another story came back to me. This one is in the future, Anthem by Ayn Rand where, in a dystopian society, total surveillance brought even the word "I" to be forbidden.

Is this where w e are going? Are the lights beginning to go out?  I'll miss Groklaw or must we say: we'll miss Groklaw.

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