Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Rick Smolan: Who is the Enemy of the State?

Rick Smolan:  So, you know, whenever people ask me what my favorite spreads are in the book, it’s a little like which are your favorite children.  You sort of love them all for different reasons.  One of the ones that has kind of emerged in the course doing the project is someone just anecdotally was in our office one day and showed me a presentation they were giving, and in the presentation was this picture of the old FBI filing system from the 50s.

Of the women with little files, card catalogues in this vast sort of warehouse.  I thought it was such a cool picture and so much the opposite of our idea of how we store data today.  And then someone showed me a picture of Julian Assange’s data center, a hundred feet underground in Sweden, which had similar shapes.  So I thought this is really cool; these are file catalogues, and here are these huge data servers.

And then I thought I wonder if there’s some story about J. Edgar Hoover that Time Magazine did as a hero back then.  And we found this wonderful Time Magazine cover and, of course, back then he was a hero; he was the head of the FBI, saving the free world.  And now found out that in fact he was using a lot of this information for his own personal purposes.  Then we found a Time Magazine cover with Julian Assange, basically being very critical of him and saying he was destroying.  It’s very interesting to me; I wonder if 50 years from now we'll look back, maybe Julian will be the hero and J. Edgar Hoover will be the enemy of the state.

The time changes the way that we understand perspective.  So I thought that the way that page evolved was interesting and the last thing that I thought about was really fun was that someone made a comment that, in fact, the data center where the WikiLeaks data is stored is actually much more vulnerable to attack than the FBI filing system, which you could've gotten in there and if you did get in then there was no Xerox machine and there was certainly no thumb drives.  So the fact that all this data actually ended up in WikiLeaks was basically snuck out on a CD-ROM or on little thumb drives, would’ve been impossible back in the '50s.  So that was actually more secure, even though it was much less accessible.

The page has this wonderful sort of echoes back and forth through technology and space and time and politics and history.  And it’s one of my favorite spreads in the book.

Directed/produced by Jonathan Fowler and Dillon Fitton

 

Rick Smolan: I wonder if 50 years from now we'll look back, maybe Julian Assange will be the hero and J. Edgar Hoover will be the enemy of the state.

LIVE ON MONDAY | "Lights, camera, activism!" with Judith Light

Join multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Judith Light live on Big Think at 2 pm ET on Monday.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo

Keep reading Show less

Space travel could create language unintelligible to people on Earth

A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.

Credit: NASA Ames Research Center.
Surprising Science
  • A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
  • Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
  • This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".
Keep reading Show less

Your emotions are the new hot commodity — and there’s an app for that

Many of the most popular apps are about self-improvement.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Personal Growth

Emotions are the newest hot commodity, and we can't get enough.

Keep reading Show less

Neom, Saudi Arabia's $500 billion megacity, reaches its next phase

Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.

Credit: Neom
Technology & Innovation
  • The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
  • The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
  • It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
Keep reading Show less

Study details the negative environmental impact of online shopping

Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.

Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
  • Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
  • Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast