Orwell vs. Huxley

Since NSA surveillance became apparent with the leaks by Edward Snowden, sales of Orwell’s 1984 have leapt. Orwell’s view of the future was one in which power deprives us of our liberties. This nice comic strip, via Farnham St blog, does a nice job of contrasting the other important text laying out a vision for a dystopian future, Huxley’s Brave New World. This book reveals a future in which we amuse and distract our way into a state of passivity.

In my view the crispest and most intelligent use of these two texts to frame the debate about where technology might take us is in John Naughton’s book From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg – and I think he was the first to spot how neatly these two texts lay out the two extremes we face as are ruled through powerful technologies and chose to live through such technologies.