The ALA describes Banned Book Week (BBW) as a celebration of our freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Often, a symbolic move by those who can not ban a book or keep people from reading one is to burn it - in mass quantities. Throughout history, the symbolism of burning has taken on many forms. The first documented burn of protest took place in 213 BCE, as a Google search will illustrate after one sifts through to find the valid information. Other Google results lead the same search to Burning Man, where a burn is symbolic in many different ways to many different people. Given this variation in meaning to burn, along with the various ways in which media is delivered, we are now considering what 21st Century Burning (and banning) will look like in our connected world.
I asked my Basic Interactive Production class to consider the following questions for extra credit:
- How will books and media be banned in the 21st Century?
- How would Net Neutrality (or lack thereof) contribute to 21st Century Banning or even Burning?
- What will 21st Century Book Banning and Burning look like?
I gave them 24 hours to complete the task. Not surprisingly, I received 4 entries out of 24 students. However, those four were powerful statements. Honest answers to the questions above that are represented in the video for this entry, “21st Century Burning.”
Interestingly, 3 out of 4 of the student reflections were directly related to the law or authority. Michael D. Taft wondered if a future Amazon.gov would ban a search. Thomas Moore’s concern was propaganda and possible “sign says…” sightings along a roadside near you. Brittney Ibold made a strong, yet simple statement, “They will find you…”
The final student submission, by Brandon Crouch, illustrated how many feel the direction books and media are heading – all digital. In an era of media, digital or otherwise, existing together in a complex cloud of connectivity will our attitudes and methods of banning and burning change as well?