After Nineteen Eighty-Four

Towards an ironic history of George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, a book about pervasive surveillance and censorship under totalitarianism.

Man reading 1984 in Thailand, being documented by cellphones.

Egypt, November 2014:

“An Egyptian college student carrying a copy of George Orwell’s novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ was arrested in Cairo, raising questions about free speech under the country’s government with President Abdel Fattah Sisi.”

Thailand, June 2014:

“Thailand has suppressed the film of Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell’s classic novel of dictatorship and surveillance, in the latest effort to quash dissent after last month’s military coup. Members of a film club in the northern city of Chiang Mai cancelled a screening of the film in an art gallery after police intimidated organisers with suggestions that it violated the law. Nineteen Eighty-Four has become a symbol of peaceful opposition to General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who seized power from Thailand’s elected government last month after months of violent street demonstrations.”


“Police in Thailand yesterday arrested eight people for demonstrating against the nation's increasingly repressive military junta, including a man dragged away by undercover officers for reading a copy of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.”

Internet, July 2009:

“In George Orwell’s ‘1984,’ government censors erase all traces of news articles embarrassing to Big Brother by sending them down an incineration chute called the ‘memory hole.’ On Friday, it was 1984 and another Orwell book, Animal Farm, that were dropped down the memory hole — by In a move that angered customers and generated waves of online pique, Amazon remotely deleted some digital editions of the books from the Kindle devices of readers who had bought them.”

USA, 1984:

“The [CIA] also changed the ending of the movie version of ‘1984,’ disregarding Orwell’s specific instructions that the story not be altered. In the book, the protagonist, Winston Smith, is entirely defeated by the nightmarish totalitarian regime. In the very last line, Orwell writes of Winston, ‘He loved Big Brother.’ In the movie, Winston and his lover, Julia, are gunned down after Winston defiantly shouts: ‘Down with Big Brother!’”

USA, 1981:

“It was banned and burned in the U.S.S.R. under Stalin’s rule for its’ negative attitude toward communism, and reading it could’ve resulted in your arrest. It has also been banned and challenged in many U.S. schools. During the Cold War, a teacher in Wrenshall, Minnesota was fired for refusing to remove 1984 from his reading list. In 1981, it was challenged in Jackson County, Florida (for being pro-communism!).”

>  2 October 2016 | LINK | Filed in , , ,
Over 900 images of HIV/AIDS UK graphics & campaigns now uploaded at

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Milk-based packaging is better than plastic - and edible!
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@SarahKSilverman: This is a 1977 pin about the wage gap. Women made 59 cents 4 each man's dollar. We've come up 20 cents in 29 yrs

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Law Professor's Response to Black Lives Matter Shirt Complaint

A first year law school student wrote a complaint about her professor having worn a Black Lives Matter T-shirt during class. The professor’s response is priceless.

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Real Men Pack Glue Guns

Thank you @JLeoNYC
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ACLU launches legal battle to allow researchers to do anti-discrimination testing of algorithms and platforms.
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Drawing the Line: How redistricting turned America from blue to red
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New York City public schools to offer free tampons to students
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So You Want to Organize a Very Large Protest March

So you want to organize a very large protest march? There's no one better to ask than Leslie Cagan. Leslie has helped organize some of the biggest marches in recent history. To name just a few:

I interviewed Leslie in November 2015. Both Leslie and I have lightly edited the text below for clarity.

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Ten Challenges to the Use of Data Visualization in Human Rights

In January 2016, my colleagues and I from an interdisciplinary research group at NYU (#NYUhrviz) asked a group of human rights researchers and advocates about the challenges they face when using data visualization. Mixing formal interviews with informal discussion, we found that responses revealed a few common themes. Drawn from this modest sample, here are ten questions on the minds of the rights professionals we spoke to, challenges that complicate and impede the use of data visualization in human rights work.

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>  9 February 2016 | LINK | Filed in
Ooh, sparkly new Los Angeles geodata portal! Much data, so map: More about it here.
Los Angeles Geohub home page
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Poverty drop in Africa not correlated to GDP, but to countries building local infrastructure.
Rates of poverty change in 33 African countries between 2011-2015
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Tales of $100k+ student debt earn headlines, but real problem is 1/3 can't repay loans under $5000.
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These gorgeous posters from Buenos Aires to tell you that life is better by bike
Bikes are better for your heart Bikes are better for your knee Bikes are better for your stomach Bikes are better for your head
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@RikersBot tweets one story a day from a prisoner at Rikers Island. Via
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Facebook Is Throttling Nonprofits and Activists
Twitter  6 February 2016 | LINK
New stamps promoting LGBT equality worldwide unveiled at the UN:
Four LGBT-themed stamps
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Searching for a code fix and finding out about all the delightful things you can no longer do with deprecated APIs.
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Senate to outsource tedious task of writing legislation to industry regulated by same legislation
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More? See February’s archives.
Or January’s.