Islands in the net: Reporters Without Borders identifies the internet’s black holes

The Internets Black Holes

Originally uploaded by oneighturbo

I’ve just come across this campaign poster by Reporters Without Borders outlining 15 “black holes” in the world wide web. Where the circulation of a free press is restricted. The 15 countries are Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

The poster reminds me a lot of Bruce Sterling’s surprisingly prophetic novel Islands in the Net, which I’ve been meaning to reread for a while. Written in 1988, but set in 2023 it fortells of a time when most of us live in a kind of world state woven together by a vast communications web. That idea is touched on here, that the internet exists as a truly transnational state and deny access to it is to deny a basic human right.