Why I Want to be an Information Pirate
“You steal information.”
“I liberate it. Information shouldn’t be a commodity. That’s obscene”
In the age of information, “The ability to access information is power.” I can really appreciate Piercy’s commentary on the ethical obligation to have access to information. Information is the great equalizer, and should not be a commodity of the wealthy or powerful. It is the medium of education, truth, and enlightenment. I like the way this idea is romanticized by Piercy’s information pirates, “With mass literacy, any person no matter how poor could learn how the society operated, could share visions of how things might be different.” I also like the emphasis on the history of the printing press, and the written word in paper format of books. It conjures up the significance that these events had on the past, and compares them to the potential breakthroughs in digital information. In the wake of hackers, public and government databases (e.g. the PRISM program, Wikileaks, and Project Guttenburg), Information can expose corruption (e.g. Panama Papers), decide elections, advance humanity, and fulfill the deepest human desires. It is powerful, and so must be the forces that wield it. The guerrilla cyberpunk war in the novel resonates with many of the information wars in contemporary society, noble information warriors are needed to ensure that this vast sea of knowledge is channeled and accessed properly.
But is all information equal? Should all information be public, or should there be some information that is private? An example that should give pause to the generalization that “information” should be free – the implied premise being that all information is equal – would be personal information. Does a government have the right to an individual’s personal information? Should the United States publish nuclear launch codes, as an example of sensitive information? I would argue that a missed opportunity in the novel, is to make more distinction between personal, public, and sensitive information, explaining the relationship and importance of each.
To some degree, information pirates play a defensive role as much as offensive, they produce “Chimaras” in order to thwart attack or entrance to the “base.” So in the same way that information, in the positive, is power (gaining beneficial knowledge), protecting information is also power. I would argue that the ability to afford “personal information” should not be a commodity only afforded to the super wealthy, and differs greatly from corporate and government secrecy. This aspect should be considered as well.
 Marge Piercy, He She, and It, (New York: Ballantine Books, 1991), 193-194
 Greg Copeland, “Illustration of Martin Luthor,” The Gospel Coalition https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2012/10/31/what-was-luther-doing-when-he-nailed-his-95-theses-to-the-wittenberg-door/
 Marge Piercy, He She, and It, (New York: Ballantine Books, 1991),, 194
 Ibid, 194
 Photo of Edward Snowden, Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/edward-snowden-after-months-of-nsa-revelations-says-his-missions-accomplished/2013/12/23/49fc36de-6c1c-11e3-a523-fe73f0ff6b8d_story.html