Print Friendly and PDF
only search openDemocracy.net

Pigeon post: privacy in the Information Age

A tableau for whistleblower Snowden - just strap your USB stick on! (visual montage)

Click to enlarge.Click to enlarge.

The first message carried across to a friend in good secrecy might be this work from the year 1641: "Mercury, Or The Secret and Swift Messenger: Shewing, how a Man May with Privacy and Speed Communicate His Thoughts to a Friend at Any Distance" by John Wilkins, who gives many more antique examples in this early master work on private data-communication, like using dolphins, ot inscribing a message on the shaven head of a slave and let his hair grow and next send him through the enemy lines. The reflective properties of the moon and their potential is mentioned as well, along with communication in the way 'the angels do', in other words telepathy. Given the present circumstances, this last one may be the most secure, also in our digital age.

You will find additional information on this tableau on the author's Flickr page.

About the author

Tjebbe van Tijen was curator of the department for the documentation of “modern social movements” at the University of Amsterdam and in the International Institute of Social History.

He works as a multi-media artist under the name Imaginary Museum, making interactive installations to dramatise history. He now works for the School of Creative Media at the City University of Hong Kong developing a visual narrative education system'.


We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the
oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.