Cyberpunk author William Gibson has said that this disastrous episode in our nation's history is about our struggle to deal with the scope of new technologies. Our vast telecommunications network, including cable, phones, and the Internet, has made it easier than ever for telecom companies to expose our private lives to authority figures with the power to punish us severely — even kill us. What the NSA has done, Gibson argues, is the result of evolved but unregulated computer storage and search capacities that make it possible to record, search, and maintain archives of the whole nation's telephone calls.
Certainly technical evolution has made it easier for the government to place us under surveillance without revealing it — and without any oversight by the judicial system. But it's not technology that's stoppering the country's outrage. That's a problem as old as recorded communication itself. Most people cannot take apart a piece of rhetoric and tell you whether its component parts are facts and evidence or merely seductive fiction. SFBG
Annalee Newitz is a surly media nerd who can take apart and reassemble an argument in one minute flat.