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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.