Keep the internet ephemeral, distributed, and anonymous

apple as big brother

The internet is full of old hands that were around during it’s renaissance and are keepers of that spirit. Maciej Cegłowski (Idlewords, Pinboard) is one of those keepers and his writings poke fun at the establishment, elevate the strange, and celebrate the possible. His recent rant about keeping the internet free and clear of centralized authority is not to be missed. Tucked into a broader ramble exploring the tragic life of Russian inventor, Lev Sergeyevich Termen, he reminds us of what we used to have and what we could lose if we stop paying attention.

Orwell imagined a world with a telescreen in every room, always on, always connected, always monitored. An Xbox One vision of dystopia.

But we’ve done him one better. Nearly everyone here carries in their pocket a tracking device that knows where you are, who you talk to, what you look at, all these intimate details of your life, and sedulously reports them to private servers where the data is stored in perpetuity.


When I was in grade school, they used to scare us with something called the permanent record. If you threw a spitball at your friend, it would go in your permanent record, and prevent you getting a good job, or marrying well, until eventually you’d die young and friendless and be buried outside the churchyard wall.

What a relief when we found out that the permanent record was a fiction. Except now we’ve gone and implemented the damned thing. Each of us leaves an indelible, comet-like trail across the Internet that cannot be erased and that we’re not even allowed to see.

Mr. Cegłowski also operates the twitter feed for Pinboard


and has written many other fanciful thought pieces (The Alameda-Weekhawken Burrito Tunnel is a classic) on his blog, Idlewords.





Leave a comment