Dave Walker sees more online samizdat, which he deftly names samizdata. Sounds familiar?
The original Samizdat consisted of textual material intended to criticise and subvert repressive political regimes – it was surreptitiously copied and circulated in a “pass it on to your trustworthy friends” manner.
Today’s samizdata – such as a certain hex string which, in the last month, has spread from one blog across Digg and thence to thousands of blogs and sites – is material which can now also be intended to subvert repressive data management regimes.
In the days of the Cold War, samizdat was spread between people who typically knew each other, whereas today’s typical samizdata – even though it could conceivably propagate via USB memory sticks in a similar manner – employs more of a “scattergun” approach. This may well be down to the fact that secret police organisations in Cold War times were not omniscient; by contrast, today’s data management Politburos have access to Google, so the top priority for samizdata proponents is, as well as concealing their identities, ensuring that their data is propagated so widely that the probability of all the sites carrying the data being gagged becomes as close to infinitesimal as possible.
Before the AACS product key, the last major piece of data management-subverting samizdata was DeCSS. DeCSS spread by website, newsgroup and T-shirt, the AACS key has spread much more quickly by blog, wiki and tag indexer. It is a sign of the times, although I am not about to predict that AACS product key T-shirts won’t happen soon.
While the contribution of samizdat and its influence on populations to the eventual fall of various regimes is discussed in detail elsewhere, the effects of samizdata (online samizdata for the purposes of this discussion) are also not entirely straightforward; DeCSS and the falling cost of embeddable processing power clearly influenced AACS, particularly in the case of the upgradable key. However, as AACS could be broken once, on the grounds that key and encrypted material are stored together in a device under the physical control of the user, it can be broken again. The most accurate prediction I can make is that we’ll be seeing a lot more samizdata in future.