The Internet, postmodernity, and justice

by Sofia

Quick thought because it’s finals.

Last night I found this article in the Guardian about Anonymous taking on Rehtaeh Parsons’ case fascinating. Today I’m  reading about how documents from Wikileaks are being used in court to prove the Argentine military’s involvement in a massacre that took place in Rosario in the 1970s; the leaked document communicates to the US embassy how the military was planning to pass on the “credit” for the massacre to the federal and provincial police forces (El Esquiu).

I’ve wondered how justice would function, what justice would look like, when postmodernity had seeped its way into it. These cases represent a shift in bodies/forms of power which are now in contact with and being influenced by an organization like Wikileaks, which facilitates the anonymous collection of information and harnesses new technologies of the Internet to have truth wreak havoc on those who hide it. Anonymous does similar things, but is more anarchic given its extensive trolling for the lulz. The Guardian’s article does an great job of showing how fragmented, imperfect, and strange it is when decentralization creates power that can challenge governments and their traditional power. It’s exciting to watch this happen, and I wonder how North American society will change because of it. In a world that, for the time being, is much more panopticon than 1984, I wonder whether this new kind of power will grow, whether it will come to be a normal part of how cases get mobilized, whether the novelty will wear off and—like libraries, and the Internet itself—will soon just be a place where little happens beyond meeting limited, personal needs like finding a book or instant messaging friends. Or I wonder whether North American governments will evolve to clamp down on the openness of the Internet, slowly offing the rugged hacktivist pioneers of the world wide web, turning “offenders” into informants. Not just today, but in ten, fifty, a hundred years from now.

I really hope someone out there is doing a master’s (or sci non-fi) on this, and that I can find it to read it. Or maybe this is the kind of topic Mike means when he says I could go into theory.