The Anarchist in the Library is the first guide to one of the most important cultural and economic battlegrounds of our increasingly plugged-in world. Siva Vaidhyanathan draws the struggle for information that will determine much of the culture and politics of the twenty-first century: anarchy or oligarchy, total freedom vs. complete control. His acclaimed book explores topics from unauthorized fan edits of Star Wars to terrorist organizations’ reliance on leaderless resistance,” from Napster to Total Information Awareness to flash mobs.
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A Critical Message Lost in the HazeI had a graduate school professor who used to talk about his fog index. This professor of Communications Theory believed, as do I, that writers and teachers who understand their material, are capable of expressing themselves in simple, declarative sentences. Those did not understand their material, went his corollary, resorted to compound, complex sentences to mask their lack of understanding. This continuum, he termed “The Fog Index.”Unfortunately for me, this was probably the only lecture by this professor I understood that semester.In this book Siva Vaidhyanathan posits there are dangers posed by the increasing speed and amount of information available. We resort, he says, to technological fixes to avoid discussions of the often complex and serious issues presented by this explosion.This conflict manifests itself when someone invents a device, algorithm or law that moves the system of digital information towards freer distribution. The other side responds by pushing the distribution system back into their previous restraints.The book outlines several examples:•The battle to control public libraries, which are seen as breeding grounds for terrorism and pornography.•Attempts to restrict the use and distribution of encryption technology to prevent it from falling into the hands of terrorists and criminals.•Efforts by governments to regulate personal computers and networks to control illicit flows of material.•Commercial and governmental efforts to regulate science and mathematics, including the human genome.Unfortunately for me, and I believe, society, that is about all I understood. Vaidynanathan’s arguments get lost in his fogged-in writing style. Hopefully, time will bring clarity to his writing. His message is critical to a society that treasurers its civil liberties.more
A very well researched book in which the reader is guided through a series of thoroughly disseminated topics on the complex relationship between information, culture and our modern society. There is a nice flow in the language and all the chapters are well tied together. Highly recommended.more