Author : Sam Clough, Staff Writer
Jack sighed, and tabbed through the moment’s top links. They hadn’t changed much since earlier that morning: still the usual desultory mix of politics, tech articles, and irreverent ‘humour’. Lolcats had been ceased to be funny almost as soon as the merchandising hit.
He peeled the interface wafer from his neck. The flexible plastic bilayer pulled away from his skin cleanly. Almost as soon as he did so, it emitted a ‘message received’ chirp. With a due sense of foreboding, he smoothed it back across the accustomed spot under his collar.
His customised newsfeeds immediately began to scroll across his vision. With a blink, they were obscured by the new message. It was from Dog, a gamer he’d met months ago.
—–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
Traffic analysis is great fun. I wrote a tool to track effective votes on all political matters. Whilst it seems that around sixty percent of those eligible do actually participate in our fine democracy/anarchy/infocracy – (did anyone ever decide on what to call it? Surely the germans have a decent compound noun for this. Anyway..) – but those votes are controlled by maybe ten percent of the eligibles. People seem to have, by and large, unconsciously given proxy power to an elite few.
This is what I’ve been waiting for. Hard data that shows I’m right. This isn’t a free state. Nothing like it.
I think I’ve found a way to concentrate popular opinion against these ‘power-users’.
I’m going full broadcast with the attached files soon. Have a look.
—–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (ThinWafer)
—–END PGP SIGNATURE—–
That was Dog. Paranoid to the core. But he had attached signed data from the politics section. After all, you were only paranoid if you couldn’t prove it: and Dog’s scanner had bought up some passably interesting facts. The names changed, and drifted over time, but there was a core of identities that voted on every political motion that was bought up. And it was always to bury any outside submitted, or to vote up motions of their own.
—–BEGIN UNSIGNED MESSAGE—–
Unlike you, I’m not paranoid. Although for once you’ve managed to assemble something somewhat convincing. I don’t see how we can use it. There’s nothing we can do, frankly. And who cares? I’m going to shoot you some lol* — have a laugh, lighten up. I’m going to go outside.
—–BEGIN UNSIGNED SIGNATURE—–
—–END UNSIGNED SIGNATURE—–
Jack felt a twinge of guilt at his slightly caustic reply. Some people never learnt, though, so he dismissed it. Dog would just feel more self-righteous. Jack connected to the CCTV spider he’d loosed into the net. He asked it to track down Dog. The mapped path showed a slow spiral inwards, avoiding high-density cam and mic coverage, headed straight for the forum: the base-in-reality for political debate. The forum was large enough to accommodate a few thousand; it was rarely packed to capacity. There was no real advantage to going there in the flesh, anyway. An alert flashed up: Dog was offline. Dog was never offline.
Jack was running hard, already halfway to the forum by the time he figured it out.
Every channel was suddenly full of Dog’s data, and locked from editing. Then a fireball blossomed from the top of the forum, both real and virtual. The political channels timed out, died, only to return as static error pages. A ripple of explosions toppled the building.