Today is 11 Men 13 Pohp

1345 shopping days until 4 Ahau 3 K’ank’in.

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Via DailyKos TV

Tulsa teabag makes weak tea–No cake, and no cucumber sandwiches. How many lumps? Fox 23 News’ John Gibson reporting:  “The second this is over, I’m on vacation.”


Eric Blair, aka George Orwell, created the powerful meme, “Big Brother.” Since his novel 1984 was published in 1948, Big Brother and its associated memes have propagated, as we now say, virally, throughout the ‘O Spheres of human culture. I would like to suggest a new meme as an overlay and even a successor to Big Brother: Little Sister.

Who is Little Sister? To quote another great mememaker, Walt Kelly, as spoken by his character and avatar Pogo,  “Yep, son, we have met the enemy and he is us.”  We have met Little Sister, and She is us.  Put an Orwellian twist on the paraphrase, and it becomes,

We are Little Sister, and we are watching us.

Little Sister is everyone who carries a cellphone with a digital camera that can upload pics and viddy to the intertubes. Little Sister is whoever copped the feed of Fox News, and everyone who posts it online.  Little Sister is the “Macaca” who provided now former Senator George Allen an opportunity to destroy his political career.  Little Sister is the 3 or more BART riders who viddied BART policeman Johannes Mehserle shooting Oscar Grant as Grant lay prone on the floor of the car.  Little Sister is an emergent property of people interacting via the ever-faster global communications grid and all the technologies, software, and infrastructure that make, extend, and connect it. 

In my opinion, Little Sister trumps Big Brother. To be a bit derisive about it, Big Brother is sooo Twentieth Century. Little Sister needs no Ministry of Love, no Ministry of Truth. Little Sister is distributed. Little Sister is every blogger, every person with a Facebook or a YouTube or a Twitter or Vodpod or Identica or whatever the lubed up social tool is the latest trend–o-ware to backdoor the Internet. Little Sister is every person who has an email account, even if that person is a homeless person who accesses his email via a computer at the Public Library.

Big Brother is top down, Little Sister is bottom up. Little Sister benefits from the flatness of the infosphere as it now stands, Big Brother must contend with it.  Big Brother seeks total order; total control. Little Sister is random and nondeterministic, technology-enabled anarchy incarnate. Little Sister has the wide world under surveillance, yet defeats surveillance. Every discrete bit of Little Sister is like a subatomic particle: If you know where it is, you don’t know which way it’s going; if you know which way it’s going, you don’t know where it is. Big Brother is as often suborned by Little Sister as the other way around. I’m not saying that Big Brother is going away, but there’s a new gal in town.

Little Sister does have a significant, or shall I say signal, weakness: Her continued operation is utterly dependent on the Res Technica, the aforsaid global grid, the noose-sphere into which humankind has stuck its collective neck. Given a massive fail of any portion of the infrastructure, the blue screen of death awaits her, and we take the long fall.


12 responses to “Today is 11 Men 13 Pohp

  1. I wish.

    There is fantastic power in citizen reporting. Eg:


    Uh, I don’t know if those will translate usefully.

    But you are so right about the vulnerability.

  2. As to the vulnerability, Anne, I’ve been thinking about asking everyone worth asking this question: What are you planning to do after civilizations falls and there isn’t an internet anymore?

  3. This is one of the most hopeful things you’ve ever written!

    After the fall, I expect to be publishing onto clay tablets, which I’ll fire in a backyard anagama.

  4. Brilliant piece of writing and insight, Doc. Truly.

  5. Lot’s to think about here, Doc — so I’m thinking. I’m really wondering how random Little Sister is on average. One can find many shining examples of Little Sister’s People Power, but aren’t these the exceptions? Most people have bought into what Big Brother says — not your friends or my friends, but most NORMAL citizens — and are using the grid in ways that are fully approved by and help bolster the status quo. No?

    Regardless, a provocative essay. Good work, Dr. Omed.

  6. Marvin, Little Sister is a process, not a creed. It is powered by people who have access to the technologies that allow them to input and output to the grid, but it doesn’t necessarily promote People Power, anymore than evolution by natural selection promotes the political creeds of the very ill named Social Darwinism, Manifest Destiny, or any idea of human progress. Like the process of natural selection, Little Sister has no goal and no values of herself, even tho’ she is an unintended creation of human actions and human instrumentality.

    The technologies are being exploited by everyone who has access to them, for any conceivable good or ill. Access cannot be controlled at all times by any one authority or set of authorities. Little Sister arises from the properties of these technologies, and creates user capabilities unforeseen by any authority. Big Brother is a nickname for totalitarianism, a political system that worships, and attempts to preserve, absolute power for the few. Little Sister is the nickname I propose for the fruitful high tech anarchy in which most of us find ourselves living. Big Brother was purpose made; Little Sister just happened.

    I do think Little Sister tends to disrupt the status quo, tho’ on occasion Little Sister does bolster it as well. More the former than the latter. Depends on what the status quo is that day, or rather, that millisecond.

  7. “Hey, little sister, don’t you do what your big sister done” Dwight Yoakam, and covered by that other guy. And another tag for those unfamiliar with the good Dr.’s previous Salon ruminations on Fred and who maybe didn’t pick up on the pun,
    alas poor Teilhard, we hardly knew ye:
    And for those purists who wish to claim that Fred has been re-gendered, and speaking as a sissy, Fred was always sissy.

  8. Oh, yes, whatever shall i do ? When the technical springs of my chest expander fail, and my portionate patter of the Res Extensa devolutions once again unto the Mare Romanum, the Tabula Rasa, i shall get out my windsock Paradize Lost and gum the words. Again. Yes, Sissy says,
    yes, and yes………………………….

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  10. Pingback: great reads (on modern technology & other things) in case you missed them | Stoney Moss

  11. Well said, doc. I hope the phrase — and understanding behind it — flourishes.

    What are you planning to do after civilizations falls and there isn’t an internet anymore?

    Grow a garden in non-parched earth (finding it will be the Herculean task); plant food and writing materials. Tender them in every way possible.

  12. Pingback: Today is 9 Ok 3 Wo « Dr. Omed’s Tent Show Revival

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