The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label “controversial” views, to distribute lists of “objectionable” books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.
Innovative Hungarian writer LÃ¡szlÃ³ Krasznahorkai is tonight announced as the winner of the sixth Man Booker International Prize at an award ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Krasznahorkai was chosen from a list of ten eminent contenders from around the world.
The number of pages it would take to print the Internet = 305.5 billion
Call it a mobile majority. At the start of 2015, 39 of the top 50 digital news websites have more traffic to their sites and associated applications coming from mobile devices than from desktop computers, according to Pew Research Centerâ€™s analysis of comScore data.
Cory Doctorow (Webstock, 2015) on technology:
If weâ€™re going to solve the serious, existential risks to the human race â€“ things like environmental apocalypse â€“ weâ€™re going to need social and technical infrastructure that can support evidence-driven, public-spirited institutions that can help steer us to a better place.
Alas, weâ€™re in trouble there, too. Weâ€™re living in a nearly airtight bubble of corruption and coercion. The only policies that states can reliably be expected to enact are those with business models â€“ laws and actions that make someone incredibly rich, producing the private wealth necessary to lobby state to continue the policy and keep the money flowing.
Thereâ€™s always been practical limits to how wide the gap between the rich and poor can get â€“ at a certain point, elites end up spending more money guarding their wealth from the ever-enlarging, ever-more-desperate cohort of poor than theyâ€™re getting from corrupt policies and self-dealing relationships with the state.
But technology changes all that. The automation of surveillance and coercion makes the business of maintaining social order vastly cheaper, and therefore increases the amount of wealth the very richest can keep to themselves rather than doling out dribs and drabs to the rest of us.
Thus the miseries of a technologically supported system of feudalism dwarf those of the darkest days of kings and lords. And the ever-dwindling accountability of ruling elites means that evidence-driven policy is harder and harder to enact, and when it is, that policy neednâ€™t be in the common interest.
We need to crack the airtight bubble. We need to find a way to begin unravelling the knotwork of decades of neoliberal corruption.
The first step to this is to seize the means of information. We need computers that we do what we tell them to do, and networks that we can trust, in order to carry out a program of popular reform for good governance, fairness, and equity.
We can do this, and we will do this. Because this is a policy with a business-model, and policies with business-models are the only policies the modern state can be relied upon to enact.
Watch him speak to this point (and so much more) in an hour-long video here:Â https://vimeo.com/123473929