In Inherent Vice, a perhaps minor novel by Thomas Pynchon, that great chronicler of history at an angle, the pothead detective Doc Sportello frequently runs into, and gets help from, some science geeks—proto-nerds who use a semi-privatized version of ARPANET to help Sportello get info on the various people he’s hazily tracking.
These are seemingly throwaway characters, just a few minor notes in the typical Pynchonian symphony of bizarre names and tangled plot strands and sinister conspiracies. But they are more than that. They are the prophets of our modern world, where everything is connected, and where not only can anyone with the right access track everyone else, [...]
• "We don't know a lot about how the government spies on us, but we know some things. We know the FBI has issued tens of thousands of ultra-secret National Security Letters to collect all sorts of data on people—we believe on millions of people—and has been abusing them to spy on cloud-computer users. We know it can collect a wide array of personal data from the Internet without a warrant. We also know that the FBI has been intercepting cell-phone data, all but voice content, for the past 20 years without a warrant, and can use the microphone on some powered-off cell phones as a room bug—presumably only with [...]