Monday, 22 October 2018


Actual, malicious hacking is of course not the cultural heir to countless generations of superstition that evolved from mischievous spirits to gremlins and system bugs but the fact that the pedigree isn’t always knowable tends to flatten and conflate matters for everyone. It’s hard to know whether at work we’re not under some general assault or whether it’s just a matter of poor design and systemic overburdening whose annoyance over technical difficulties are little consolation insofar as oneself isn’t the target of an attack. Most routine disruptions are just that but lately things—both during work hours and at home—seemed to have turned a touch personal. We feel we reliably understand our catalogue of repertoire for correspondence and creation but when things start to appear to go missing and unindexed, I at least begin to feel gaslighted.
I began noticing that blog posts that I knew I had composed in the past—sometimes far beyond that relative horizon called “recent”—that I wanted to footnote a current topic with weren’t to be found, search internally and externally. Pictorial searches sometimes seem to net better yields but if I didn’t have faith in the fullness of my recollection and didn’t manage an independent archive myself, I would begin to question whether the missing pages existed in the first place. “I wrote about this topic before but Google says I didn’t.” A few other internet caretakers have also mentioned this in passing and I am reasonably sure that they’re experiencing the same sort of emphasis on currency and novelty that I have been—still one has to wonder how to define sabotage and subterfuge (or innocent incompetence and the over-confidence in our abilities) in a space where gravity and the laws of physics are subject to change. We tend to think of the architecture of basic services to be permanent and self-sustaining but there’s an awful amount of behind-the-scenes maintenance that goes into it and maybe we’ve just become too accustomed to a set of expectations, a frustration that betrays our impatience. When I heard of co-workers bemoaning that they were unable to search our email server exchange for older missives as reference, I was a little baffled and dismissive—that is, until I experienced the same glitch, which isn’t consistent seemingly or long-lived enough to properly investigate and work up any sort of relatable or repeatable remedy. Lack of information is a flavour of disinformation. If this undermining (real or perceived) is the work of an Evil Genius to torment, train or trick, it’s a pretty impressive vulnerability to exploit.