Monday, August 1, 2016

Is Big Brother watching?

Another of the "are we living in 1984?" posts.  Since the last 2 posts argued in favor, here's a student who argued against us living in an Orwellian present.

In 2013, intelligence contractor Edward Snowden released a series of classified documents from the National Security Administration (NSA) to the Guardian, who exposed it to the public. These documents detailed the level of access the agency had to someone’s communications both online and over the phone. Initial outrage has transitioned into continued suspicion and skepticism, leaving people to wonder if our society has quietly transitioned into the authoritarian state that was the setting for the classic novel 1984. I don’t believe our society is anywhere close to resembling that of Winston Smith’s world, and I blame a misunderstanding of the government programs for this common comparison.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Big Brother is Watching Us – But We are Watching Back.

Another student post about whether we are living in Orwell's 1984.

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Sitting in the idyllic, countryside surroundings of Cambridge, England, it’s easy to feel like I have been thrown into another time. I am aware of and grateful for the luxury of focusing on a specific topic, diving deeply into the background and context to seek understanding and hopefully, someday, a solution. The topic is counter-terrorism, which is in stark contrast to the rolling green hills, walking paths of this university environment.

But a closer look reveals the ugly truths of modern day life where cameras are hidden in plain sight, monitoring our every move. Like most people, I try not to think too much about who might really be watching, and why. To do so would surely incite conspiracy theories and a compulsion to line the windows with tin foil. But the cameras are there, and suddenly it seems that possibly 1984 is here as well.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The British Being British

While in Cambridge, we had a contest with the students to find the best picture of "The British being British."  Below are some of the entries:
British tea time

1984? More Like 2016

Another sample of student writing.  This time, students were asked to write on the blog prompt: "Are we now living in Orwell's 1984?"  Given that we were in the UK, a country that has roughly 20% of the world's CCTV cameras and invented the TV show Big Brother, this question seemed rather appropriate.

Have you ever had a person in a trench coat secretly follow you everywhere you go, listening to every conversation you’ve ever had, peeking over your shoulder every time you look at your phone, while staring at you the whole time, unblinking? If so, then you have some more critical things to do than read this blog post. If not, then you’re probably thinking something along the lines of,
"No way. That’s a gross invasion of my privacy. This is the whole reason I moved out of my parents’ house. Why would someone need to know which fungal cream my cat uses?”

David Farley (2006) [Cartoon], Retrieved from
This type of surveillance behavior is similar to that conducted by Big Brother: a government in the chilling world of George Orwell’s 1984. Even more chilling – it’s the behavior that can be found today, in the United States.