Feeling dizzy yet? Welcome to TMI world.
Part 1. Have you decided whether Edward Snowden is a hero or villain yet? Well hurry up! There is lots of speculation about his motives! Be sure to read and listen to all of it! Don’t forget to factor in the girlfriend! Is the damage to the national security profound? Or overblown? Lots of opinions there too. You’re late with yours! I’m late with mine. On purpose. I think I’ll start the journalism equivalent to the Slow Food movement. Slow News. Sometimes, as in usually, the blizzard of first-in information is either Simply Wrong, or more commonly, Missing That Key Fact That Hasn’t Come Out. Is there more to come? Probably! So often it’s better to shelter in place while the Info Blizzard howls, and shovel out at your leisure. Growing up in Buffalo teaches some valuable things.
Part 2. From what we know, much of what Snowden revealed is a fairly carefully run and ostensibly legal program. Comforted yet? No, and here’s why. Particulars aside, what’s apparent is that now everything about you is either seen, or seeable. Everything. We sort of knew this, but we didn’t think about it. And soon enough again, we won’t think about it some more. But for a little while, we are face to face with the new normal, except that’s it’s not normal. Inevitable, maybe, but not normal. It is all justified by the “Post-9/11-World” formulation, but that doesn’t change the consequences. We are now in a world where all the information about you, virtually everything, is available to government scrutiny, and the physical means of accessing it is all in place. Whether or not it is being abused (yet) is significant but also a little beside the point. We have installed in place the information architecture of totalitarianism. Is it benign? Will it always be? What are you willing to wager? What wattage of imagination is required to see the thousand different roads to abuse of this capability? The scariest part is the lack of discussion as to how and when we will be dismantling this as the “War on Terror” (presumably) recedes. And this architecture of astonishing power didn’t come, as the Teapartiers worried, from a few social insurance programs. It came from a security fear that we all bought into, and we sold a fair bit of our potential future security to pay for it. More borrowing from future generations!