Permanent Record

by Edward Snowden

To be honest, I found this book quite dry. There were parts of it that where like a rough jerky, tough to chew, tough to swallow. I read this book because I wanted to learn more about this part of history which might be insignificant decades from now but feels like one of the larger, if not largest, events in recent history.

First, about the book, Permanent Record provoked a lot of thought about my personal relationship with technology. Snowden’s experience growing up in Maryland scarily resembled my own. I found myself nodding along to his many descriptions of Maryland, it’s a sleepy state that houses some of the most important figures in US government. More fundamentally, Permanent Record shifted my view on technology. As someone enamored with the ability of technology since I was a kid, I’ve always thought of technology as a force for good. There were and are cases of abusing the power of technology but I dismissed them as user error. After all, technology is simply a tool. A powerful one, but still one that needs human inputs to function.

Permanent Record changed that thinking. I now look at my Google Home with a bit more suspicion than before and make sure to leave my phone powered off at night. I think a hidden message in Permanent Record was about the question of power. Do humans corrupt power or does power corrupt us? What if this power was held by the UK or Russia, would it come to the same conclusion as the US did with NSA? Maybe, maybe not.

While I don’t necessarily agree with a lot of the viewpoints in Permanent Record, it’s definitely broadened my perspective.


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