George Orwell must be having a chuckle – maybe even a hearty laugh – at the hullabaloo that ensued when Amazon deleted Orwell’s 1984 from it’s Kindle library because it didn’t have publishing rights to the digital reproduction. Big Brother must certainly have been impressed by the ease with which faceless technocrats can deprive us of one our most sacred rights: the right to read. In his wildest imagination, Orwell could never have dreamt that Big Brother could control what people read with the simple flick of a switch. Makes me start to wonder about the implications of Google’s digital library.
Maybe I’m paranoid, but I don’t think I will be recycling my book collection any time soon. For that matter, I’m taking a long position in personalized stationery even though the Post Office may not be around much longer. I have even stopped converting my photographs to digital images and gone back to leather photo albums. I’m stopping short of building a bomb shelter, but will seriously consider getting rid of the TV if they have anymore “reality” TV shows. I guess Paula Abdul’s abrupt departure from American Idol is a sign that reality TV is even less silly and hilarious than life in digiworld.
Just when I thought that digiworld couldn’t get any loonier, I discovered that someone was actually converting John Quincy Adam’s 1809 diary entries into Tweets. In today’s New York Times, reporter Katie Zezima writes that a college student has been taking JQA’s journal entries of his boat trip to Russia and coverting them to tweets on Twitter. According to the article, JQ already has 4,800 followers (I’m not one of them) and “the number was climbing.” This clearly adds a new dimension to the Twitter tag line “What are you doing?” In John Quincy’s case it might be “I’m dead, but still chirping!” I wonder how many more people will become followers of someone who has been dead for more than 150 years. ”Curiouser and curiouser!” said Alice in Wonderland (Yep, I have the book).
As we race down the digital highway of new “awareness” and greater “sensitivity” and “connectivity,” I do hope that some of us will pause to consider the consequences. We refer to that as “stopping to smell the roses.” Personally, I find digiworld as confusing and as transient as Alice.
Richard W. May
Therese Saint Clair