UNHISTORY by Lee Gimenez


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Post December 23, 2009, 12:35:53 PM

UNHISTORY by Lee Gimenez

A sobering thought. All search engines, Google, Yahoo and the like consolidated into one megabrowzer, OMNI.

Most likely under the control of the U.S. Government. See how easy it was for a Congressman to make a five million dollar mortgage disappear, and the bank appears to be no wiser.

Sam's troubles begin when he pushes his investigation of said Congressman further. All related documents of the property transaction disappear from the OMNI database.

Do I hear faint echoes of Orwell's 1984, with OMNI as Big Brother?

gino
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Post December 23, 2009, 12:46:26 PM

Unhistory

it's called "witness protection"

RT
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Post December 29, 2009, 05:28:54 PM

unhistory

I had several thoughts after reading this story.
One was a little blotch from history. Before the civil war, railroad tracks were different sizes, each company having their own trains to fit only their tracks. At the start of the war, it was a mess to try to transfer goods from one train line to another – so the North made all their railroad tracks the same size, forcing a standardization which is still used today. The South did not follow suit, and it may have been one of the reasons that the war went as it did.
Today we have a mishmash of computer companies – all competing with each other – all trying to make sure their systems cannot be used without their particular software. When the government takes over the systems and standardizes them – we will know we have come toe to toe with history, whether in the form of an intercontinental war, or a far-seen natural disaster.
The Omni system in this story may be the result of such a takeover. In any case, a global, all-seeing, all-knowing system is indeed a terrifying thought.
I liked the author’s use of internal banter, it makes the piece easy to read, as though there were two people in the room and you were just having a conversation.
This piece brings up a lot of issues: the loss of privacy (young people have no idea what privacy use to mean); the loss of a paper trail through exclusive use of the web means it would be much more difficult to battle the powers that be if something went awry in the circuits; if there is only one omnipotent source of information – that power can be used or misused by whoever is at the top.
A good read. It was placed in the Sci Fi section – but this kind of abuse is at our doorstep.
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Post December 29, 2009, 06:47:28 PM

unhistory

Take a look at Scientific American December 2009 page 58. Couple the technology that they mention there with your story.

RT

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Post December 29, 2009, 09:05:59 PM

Sam did have one piece of hardcopy from his original investigation. Wouldn't this have an OMNI date and time stamp? Admissible in court?

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Post December 29, 2009, 09:59:38 PM

evidence

And who "owns"the courts?

Look at all the people incarcerated on flimsy evidence or evidence suppressed in the real world.

RT

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Post December 30, 2009, 12:13:47 PM

Who owns the courts?

In Sam's world, the ACLU (American Criminal Liberties Union).

For Criminal, read U.S. politicians.


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Post December 30, 2009, 12:39:38 PM

courts and such

Just remember, in our legal system, one is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.

The Bill of Rights still has some sway, though it's becoming limited with the current Supreme court justices.

That being stated, Realpolitik (for the ruling classes) dictates otherwise.

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Post December 30, 2009, 02:02:50 PM

gino_ss wrote:Sam did have one piece of hardcopy from his original investigation. Wouldn't this have an OMNI date and time stamp? Admissible in court?
gino


What court? His records are just going to be altered until it shows he's already been convicted of something and will either be executed or sent to prison.

As a matter of fact, the way this system works, I'm not sure why the Senator didn't already have all this stuff done. How could he even get in the financial trouble and maybe (probably) burn his house down if he has the ability to do magic tricks with the whole system?

And hey, just because he doesn't have a mortgage doesn't mean he didn't commit arson.

I really think this is Mr. Gimenez's finest work. It was well structured, evenly paced and scarily thought-provoking.

Bravo, sir.

Bill Wolfe
"I am Susan Ivanova. . . .I am the Right Hand of Vengence. . .I am Death Incarnate, and the last living thing that you are ever going to see. God sent me."
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Post January 15, 2010, 11:15:45 AM

Always keep backups, and always keep hard-copies . . . not that they may help you, since Those Who Write History will claim them to be forgeries -- possibly adding further charges against you.

Remember how computers were supposed to reduce the use of paper? It had the opposite effect, perhaps because someone said, "Hmm, what if this hard drive contains the only record of this important document? Machines can break . . . better print that and put it in the vault." I don't see this kind of thinking going away any time soon, even if a universal system does arise. Human distrust of machines is historic, and widely popular -- and not without good reason (blue-screens, hackers, viruses, blah blah).
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Post January 15, 2010, 12:05:24 PM

To say nothing of obsolescence of storage methods.

Try using data stored on a 5.25" disk. Or even a 3.5" disk, if you don't have access to an old machine or an external drive.

And then there's the problem of deterioration of recording media (magnetic tape gets bleed-through unless accessed every couple of years, and the coating can decay; diskettes, similar problems with the coatings (and regular access won't help); optical disks also decay with time).

That's why a lot of science fiction stories feature things like text etched into metal plates and then encased in crystal for messages intended to survive for thousands of years and still be readable.

(Hard copy on paper is notoriously fragile, of course, particularly stuff printed during the cheap-pulp era where the paper itself contains enough acid to eventually make it disintegrate if exposed to normal light and humidity.)

RM
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Post January 15, 2010, 02:11:24 PM

Hard copies

As far as hard copies - if THEY want to get you, they will. Anyone can be taken down unjustly, which makes for a good story, but a difficult life.
I remember erasing a 60 page booklet, early on. I had my original manuscript and dataprocessed it all again. This time saving it on two floppy disks, instead of just one. Someone broke into my car and stole both of the binders containing my flopping disks. Nothing else, just the binders. Okay, they looked through the ashtray for roaches before leaving. I had learned by then to send stories to my email address, so it wasn't a complete disaster.
Technology is fragile. That reminds me, I need to send my novel to my email...

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