Banned Books Week is drawing to a close, but the Information Antics exhibit will be on display at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library through October 22. Here's a reading list to accompany the show, featuring fiction and nonfiction dealing with the ways in which information and data can shape the world.
Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson: This wry, time-hopping novel connects the code-breakers of World War II to the early days of the World Wide Web.
1984, George Orwell: No introduction can be needed for this classic novel of surveillance, totalitarianism, and the horrors of linguistic control.
Minority Report, Philip K. Dick: The short story that inspired the film, “Minority Report” examines the ethics and dangers of advance information, and questions the concept of free will.
The Word Exchange, Alena Graedon: In a near-future America where language has become a commodity, a strange malady called “word flu” begins to decimate the population.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan: The perfect novel for those of us who can’t decide whether we’d rather work at Google Headquarters or in a dusty antiquarian bookstore.
Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood: Shortly after humanity has become all but extinct, a survivor tries to piece together what happened—and to relate to the semi-human creatures left behind.
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury: Another book that needs no introduction, and which is certainly the most ironic title to grace every list of frequently-challenged books.
The Trial, Franz Kafka: The protagonist of this surreal book is shuffled and shunted through a fortress-like criminal justice system, punished by a vague and detached authority for a crime that is not revealed to the reader—or the criminal.
Dataclysm, Christian Rudder: One of the founders of OkCupid uses data from dating sites and social media to demonstrate how our data-proven behaviors diverge from our social narratives.
Modern Romance, Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg: Dating and data collide again in this combination of a personal relationship manifesto and an engaging look at the state of romance in the internet age.
Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free, Cory Doctorow: The internet and other technologies have permanently changed the way copyright and artistic industries work, and will continue to shape creative work in the future.
No Place to Hide, Glenn Greenwald: The definitive account of Greenwald and Edward Snowden’s exposure of the NSA’s data collection programs, and a resounding indictment of the surveillance state.
Dragnet Nation, Julia Angwin: A chilling reminder not to become complacent as the government, private companies, and criminals use data collection to observe and influence individuals and society.
Panopticism and Other Writings, Michel Foucault: This classic of philosophy becomes increasingly relevant as surveillance programs leave individuals so often “the object of information, never a subject in communication.”