Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Metric for Totalitarianism

Censorship, to the extent a government can get away with it, is the beginning of totalitarianism.

Remember Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451", the book about book-burning?

An international standards group has just designated "Error 451" as the symbol to be returned when your attempt to visit a site has been blocked by a government:
As a standard error related to the functioning of the internet, this code's usage will probably be tabulated and will appear in reports. It's a new data point.

This is an instance of an information age structure, "The Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG), a global body which reviews internet standards" exercising control over its domain that quantitatively monitors, and, by publicizing wrongs, now controls, the polity.

You may remember the principle of 'working to a metric'. Pay programmers by the number of lines of code they write, and you get a lot of really short lines. By introducing this information blockage measuring device, the IESG has created a similar metric.

Which countries will be the ten worst blockers of internet information flow? Who's the most total totalitarian?

The totalitarian totals. Another circus has come to town.


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