Back in July, Anne Applebaum noted:
In 1949, when George Orwell wrote his dystopian novel “1984,” he gave its hero, Winston, a job at the Ministry of Truth. All day long, Winston clips politically unacceptable facts, stuffs them into little pneumatic tubes, and then pushes the tubes down a chute. Beside him sits a woman in charge of finding and erasing the names of people who have been “vaporized.” And their office, Orwell wrote, “with its fifty workers or thereabouts, was only one sub-section, a single cell, as it were, in the huge complexity of the Records Department.”
It’s odd to read “1984” in 2005, because the politics of Orwell’s vision aren’t outdated. There are still plenty of governments in the world that go to extraordinary lengths to shape what their citizens read, think and say, just like Orwell’s Big Brother. But the technology envisioned in “1984” is so — well, 1980s. Paper? Pneumatic tubes? Workers in cubicles? Nowadays, none of that is necessary: It can all be done electronically, especially if, like the Chinese government, you seek the cooperation of large American companies.
Evan Coyne Maloney writes that on the Chinese version of Google, Tiananmen Square has gone down the memory hole.