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|Amazon.com offering recommendations on what to buy; Tampa,
Florida's Ybor City area using face scanning technology to find criminals in
the crowd; families attacking "mom" when she comes home late thanks to X10
wireless cameras; rental car agencies using global positioning systems (GPS)
to track and bill renters who speed; these are examples of how George
Orwell's 1984 has become a reality. Just how much is Big Brother
really watching us these days?
World Without Secrets offers an in depth look of just how the world has become closer to the Orwellian world described in 1984. With technology like telematics and WiFi (Wireless Fidelity) available regularly, the book isn't just about privacy and protecting it, or not as the case may be, but also offers a look at how open source software like Linux has created true alternatives to the closed and proprietary Microsoft world.
Where does this lead us to? According to the research of author Richard Hunter of Gartner, Inc., the familiar research group from Connecticut, the fact that all information is becoming freely available everywhere, we don't need more information, but something dubbed a Mentat to find us less but better information. Of course, you can't bypass Hunter's Laws in the process. Laws he repeats regularly in the book, with corollaries even. Laws like "The network is an amplifier." and "When everything is known, no one knows everything." Is that anything like the "Ignorance is Strength" or "Freedom is Slavery" laws of Orwell's 1984? Is that where digital music and file swapping is taking us?
Has the collapse of the dot-com world slowed down the popularity of these new technologies? Absolutely not it seems. Quite the contrary. The cars, streets, homes, and software without secrets have all led us to the need for what Hunter dubs Network Armies, those grass roots socio-political groups that through the power of the Internet can affect matters on a grand scale where in the past there may have just been a handful of picketers on a corner. Most recently (not covered in book), these Network Armies took down congress' switchboard with a goal of one call and fax per minute per congressman (or congresswoman) to promote their anti-war message against Iraq. With at least one anti-war senator receiving over 400 calls before lunch, the popularity and range of such efforts by these Network Armies that Hunter discusses seems to have exceeded even Hunter's expectations.
All in all, what is the book about and where does it take its reader? Access to information has changed the world. What used to take significant lengths of time before is practically instantaneous now. Email offers accurate transmission and retransmission of messages with no distortion. And, information has value. Different values for different people, but nonetheless there is value there for someone. Criminals tend to be the first to find the value but businesses like Amazon have learned to find the value, too. The use of technology to spread that or any information has changed the world and will continue to change the world as we know it. There isn't resolution on any of this, just good strong insight throughout by Hunter.
Just don't tell Winston.
John Zukowski, provides strategic Java consulting with JZ Ventures, Inc. through objective commentary on Java-related technologies, mentoring, training and curriculum development, technical editing, and software architecture and development. He received a B.S. in computer science and mathematics from Northeastern University and an M.S. in computer science from Johns Hopkins University