Telework and totalitarianism

Here’s the last paragraph in Chapter 9 of my book Exploring the World of the Personal Computer, published in 1982.

A totalitarian government wishing to ensure that its citizens continue to toe the line and obey all government policies had better also ensure that encryption technologies are not made available to individual citizens and that existing computers not be allowed to communicate with each other.
The danger of that occurring in the United States is extremely remote, but should never be considered to be impossible. Communicating personal computers can provide another safeguard for ensuring that the popular
wishes are reflected in the actions of the government, and all that that implies. One view of political systems is that of an inverted U. Totalitarianism is the bottom of one leg of the U, anarchy at the other. Here we sit somewhere around the top in a precarious and unstable equilibrium. Information technologies keep adding grease to our roller skates.

Now here’s a quote from the 26 June 2009 edition of the Washington Times.

Iranians seeking to share videos and other eyewitness accounts of the demonstrations that have roiled their country since disputed elections two weeks ago are using an Internet encryption program originally developed by and for the U.S. Navy.

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Apathy and the wolf

Over the past several weeks one of the favorite topics in the press has been the latest fad in pandemics: swine flu. This has been brought about by a series of ominous pronouncements by the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO indeed? More recently WHO has begun to rethink its hazard announcement policies for fear of the dreaded Wolf syndrome.

Surely you remember the old fable about the boy WHO cried Wolf! After the first Wolf! shout the people in the boy’s village rushed about in preparation for defense against the vicious Wolf. When the Wolf! failed to appear, the boy’s wolf-forecasting credibility dropped a few notches. After the second outcome-free Wolf! alert reliance on the boy’s ability dropped another few notches. And so on to the point where no one paid any attention one day to another Wolf! cry.

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