The cultural consequences of an online cataclysm

The notion of The Release from the new Dave Eggars novel has been floating around in my mind for the last few days:

The Release had happened only ten years earlier. In a hack presumed to be orchestrated by Russia, the complete email histories of over four billion people had been made public. Just as with the hack of Sony by North Korea, jobs were lost, reputations ruined, marriages crushed and friendships shattered. The emails were passed around gleefully by tens of millions, and the media—its last, lost patrols—printed and discussed those emails that revealed hypocrisy or corruption by the powerful, the wealthy, the famous, and many others who were none of those things. And after six months of handwringing, recrimination, a few thousand murders and perhaps a half-million suicides, the world forgot about the Release, and what it said about our means of communication and who stored and controlled it, and simply accommodated it, kneeling before new masters. From then on, every message written by every human was assumed to be subject to exposure—to be permanently searchable and public.

Loc 996

One response to “The cultural consequences of an online cataclysm”

  1. Great post! It’s interesting to consider the impact that such a release of information would have on our society. How do you think this event (The Release) would change the way people communicate and store information in the future?
    P. Tinting

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