If you have never read John Brunner‘s novel “The Shockwave Rider“, I strongly recommend you do so at your earliest opportunity. Published in 1975, the novel is a fictional story about a man in a future society dominated by computer networks, corrupt governments and social upheaval. Key to the book’s plot is the division between what information government authorities can access and the information citizens can see.
In many ways the book mirrors the situation we live in today. In fact, “The Shockwave Rider” is so keenly accurate in its predictions that it’s somewhat unnerving (Brunner even coined the term “worm” to refer to a computer program that moves through a network of computers and makes changes). Vast oceans of data exist across societies throughout the world. Databases compiled by corporations, non-profits and governments store meticulous details about all of us. And in our world today there is no data access balance between “regular joes” and those governmental and corporate entities. Because data about people is so especially valuable, that divide represents a power imbalance.