For thousands of years, people have been saying that the world is changing and will never again be the same. Yet the profound changes happening today are different, because they result from a specific technological development.
It is now possible, in principle, to remember everything that anyone says, writes, sings, draws, or photographs. Everything. If digitized, the world has enough disks and memory chips to save it all, for as long as civilization can keep producing computers and disk drives. Global computer networks can make it available to everywhere in the world, almost instantly. And computers are powerful enough to extract meaning from all that information, to find patterns and make connections in the blink of an eye.
Right now, governments and the other institutions of human societies are deciding how to use the new possibilities. Each of us is participating as we make decisions for ourselves, for our families, and for people we work with. Everyone needs to know how their world and the world around them is changing as a result of this explosion of digital information. Everyone should know how the decisions will affect their lives, and the lives of their children and grandchildren and everyone who comes after.
That is why we wrote this book.
This open book is licensed under a Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-SA). You can download Blown to Bits ebook for free in PDF format (22.5 MB).
Table of Contents
Digital Explosion: Why Is It Happening, and What Is at Stake?
Naked in the Sunlight: Privacy Lost, Privacy Abandoned
Ghosts in the Machine: Secrets and Surprises of Electronic Documents
Needles in the Haystack: Google and Other Brokers in the Bits Bazaar
Secret Bits: How Codes Became Unbreakable
Balance Toppled: Who Owns the Bits?
You Can't Say That on the Internet: Guarding the Frontiers of Digital Expression
Bits in the Air: Old Metaphors, New Technologies, and Free Speech