Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thought Police and the Ministry of Truth

I read George Orwell's 1984 more than a decade ago.
That was when the teenagers were still chatting on mIRC and setting up their own websites.

mIRC is still around, people have moved on from ICQ and more are getting into instant messaging. People are still setting up their own websites. Kind of. It's called blogs.

Twitter and Facebook allow users to share their thoughts and activities with the rest of the world (depending on your privacy settings). They do it without being told. That's not unlike the Thought Police (thinkpol in Newspeak). The thought police in 1984 were the enforcers of law and order in the psychological and intellectual realm. More than the control of physical breaking of laws, thought police will use all available means to glean thoughtcrimes - unapproved thoughts and the intent to challenge authority. With Twitter and Facebook, you will be logging "What are you doing?" and "What's on your mind?" without being told. I don't think George Orwell would have imagined that this was how the Thought Police would manifest itself. I wonder if he would have been twittering and facebooking had he been alive today.

Wikipedia and Google form the twin pillars of the Ministry of Truth. Ministry of Truth (Minitrue in Newspeak) is one of four Ministries in 1984. It "governs", "manufactures" and "popularises" truth. What this meant was that histories are re-written or destroyed so as to be presented in an authorised manner and disseminated to the population. And that is why I said Wikipedia and Google form the two pillars of Minitrue. Wikipedia gives you the definition of everything you need to know. I've been linking to Wikipedia throughout this blog entry. Google tells you where to find the information you need. It decides (through its algorithm) what is relevant and what is not for you and lists them out in some order.

Me? I started Twittering in 2007. According to Twitter, my first tweet was made on 15 May 2007 at 7:25pm. twittering. twitting. twiing. whatever ...

No comments: