WRITTEN ON August 7th, 2009 BY William Heath AND STORED IN Data nitwittery, Foundation of Trust, Pertinent Art, What do we want?

In describing the NSA’s ambitious construction of a $1.5bn 1m sq ft data centre, James Bamford invokes Luis Borges’ “Library of Babel”:

..a place where the collection of information is both infinite and at the same time monstrous, where the entire world’s knowledge is stored, but not a single word understood. In this “labyrinth of letters,” Borges wrote, “there are leagues of senseless cacophonies, verbal jumbles and incoherences.” In addition to the civil liberties and constitutional defects in the new surveillance law, another compelling argument against it is that it only increases the amount of “senseless cacophonies” in America’s Library of Babel.

The normal UK/USA rule of thumb suggests we have a cheaper smaller version which works even less well.

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