Disrespect your elders

In 2008, Cory Doctorow wrote Little Brother, a young-adult novel that followed a group of teen hackers from San Francisco as they engage in a kind of technological warfare against the Department of Homeland Security as it monitors youth they believe were involved in a terrorist attack on the Bay Bridge and BART. The novel was meant to depict the near-future, as opposed to an extreme Orwellian dystopia, and, five years later, it seems we've quickly arrived at the future it warned us about. Still, are we being a little paranoid or is it time to pick up some tips from Doctorow's teen anarchists and proceed to hack the system until we've set up clandestine communication through game consoles? The San Francisco Public Library chose Little Brother as this year's "One City One Book" read, encouraging a timely year-long discussion on all of its relevant themes. Tuesday's panel, held during Banned Books Week, features tech policy experts, computer programmers, and crypto activists, including staff from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, to discuss how close our world really is to the one of the novel. Hackers, information scavenging, drones — these realities are already being thrown around in casual conversation, but these experts will talk about the plausibility of some of the specific events and technologies in the novel, some of which have already happened! As we now officially live in an ever-expanding surveillance state, there's a very real possibility that the way our younger generations are taught to interpret our laws and rights will be vastly different than we'd hope. The novel and its subsequent discussion is not only for those who've lived through post-9/11 policy, but vital for keeping its younger target audience politically inquisitive and on their toes.

Tue., Sept. 24, 6 p.m., 2013
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