Little Brother & Security Theater

For the final essay of Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World, we read Cory Doctorow's Little Brother.

This essay earned me my worst grade in the whole class.

I wish that my peer reviewers all gave some feedback on this essay, though I appreciate the three that made an effort.  I do admit that I failed to stick to the guidelines for sticking to purely literary matters.  I also needed a larger Works Cited submission box, I went past the word limit and could not include more citations (including the book itself).

Little Brother resonates with me.  I strongly believe in the message that Doctorow projects through his novel, and do not mind that his message is about as subtle as a brick wall.  This all is pretty evident in my essay.
Little Brother is about the dangers complete trust in security measures.  Benjamin Franklin wrote "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety (1)," and Marcus personally experiences the flaws in the security net that the DHS covers San Francisco with.

In computers and networking, absolute security does not exist, but instead exists as a compromise.  You trade security for convenience, for cost, for choice (2).  Life may operate on a different set of rules than computer networks, but the security principles remain the same.  False positives are a huge issue, be it due to strict rules such as a computer program, or influenced by personal bias, and even innocent actions can be misconstrued.  Sometimes the false positives are humorous, such as Hamlet being blocked by a filter due to violent content (3), and sometimes not so funny.  In the United States, citizens are supposed to be 'presumed innocent until proven guilty,' however citizens are subject to armed search in their homes due to research for kitchen supplies (4) and travelers are subject to embarrassing (5) and demeaning (6) searches if they wish to travel via airline (7).  The consequences for 'cybercrime' are often far greater than the damage done.  A denial of service attack on a site, even a malicious site such as the Westboro Baptist Church, can land someone in jail under felony charges (8).

Little Brother asks us to think about what are the implications of our security measures.  Are they actually helping or just theater.  What does it mean if exposing flaws in the system brings persecution?  Can we believe in our Bill of Rights as both absolute and disposable, and how does that hurt us as individuals and as communities?


FORM (1.5)
peer 2 → The form of the essay is fine.
peer 3 → Some grammatical flaws
peer 4 → There are some typos in this essay (e.g. first sentence, are they actually helping or just theater). Anyway, the focus is completely on something unrelated to literary matters. You only used Little Brother to talk about a real-life topic.
peer 2 → The essay is well researched and points out some important things about the world at large. However it doesn't connect those items to the essay itself. The questions posed at the last paragraph are not cited or cross referenced from the book. E.g. when asking if security measures are helping or just theater, it might have been helpful if examples from the book are cited and then referred to in the real world.
peer 3 → Issue is well argued but doesn't seem convincing.
peer 4 → see above
peer 2 → This book brings out a lot of passion in all of us. However the examples are not related back to the book and the essay becomes generic. A whole essay could have been written about the first question in the last paragraph: security: does it help or is it just theater.
peer 3 → The issue is well argued but the writing needs editing


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