I have noticed a few strange things here. I thought it was just me and my connections but now that our great leaders’ meeting is over Google has suddenly gurgled back into life at a speed approaching 4 horse power versus the last fortnight’s torturous crawl. I’ve also noticed that a) my iPad burns through juice at a much faster rate – God knows what is running in the background unbeknownst to me; b) there really are whole sites that are blocked and c) the system is sufficiently inconsistent that it feels like the blocks are going on live rather than operated automatically by some clever piece of software. Makes you wonder how many people are sitting in a box somewhere reading all the stuff that is being generated every minute and what exactly they are looking for.
I remember reading 1984 here in 1990 as I went around the country by train. I’m sorry to admit that I don’t recall much of the content specifically but I do remember thinking it utterly astonishing that I had found such a book among the few on offer in the sole, government controlled, English language bookshop in the middle of very communist China. How on earth did it get past the sensors? (And yes, that is deliberate).
Back in the day we dealt in FECs or small quantities of RMB from black market trades when people didn’t adamantly refuse to take them from us given it was illegal for us to even have them. Some Cantonese made a good trade from me and my travelling companion down a remote Guangdong dead end one day, giving us rmb15 for our FEC100 in a well practised sleight of hand. But of course you could hardly go to the fuzz and say you’d been had doing something you didn’t oughter be doing in the first place.
Even simple interactions still have something of a 90s hangover for me. One of my classmates was in deepest darkest N Korean borderland in 1992 and had a special friend assigned to her which nearly drove her insane. Even going to the loo alone was something of a bargaining exercise. I need to get over the Orwellian paranoia but the difficulty meeting people now has a similar feel to it.
Things have moved on in many ways but in others 1984 seems as appropriate for today as it was then. The eyes are just a little better hidden and often within our own devices. Let’s see if this post makes it out there.