One photo a day until I meet Jonathan Harris

7th April

I'd like share a few thoughts about genocide.

The more I write here, the more people will eventually find out about me and my family. Unless I take pains to fictionalise my daily existence, each photo I post will give clues about where I have been and each story I tell will reveal more about what I believe in. Jonathan Harris doesn't seem to have any problems doing this, but it seems to scare me senseless. It makes deciding each day what I'm going to show or tell very difficult.

Out walking early this morning I tried to get to the bottom of this phobia. What was I really worried about?

As far fetched as it might seem, what I am really fearing is genocide. If people know where I am and what my beliefs are, it makes me vulnerable to attack. The situation is even worse if people can work out who my family is and where they live. This fear of short-radius genocide appears to have underpinned every tyrannical regime that human history has known. From Stalin to your local mafia stand-over man, their power over a particular person relies on that person's fear that they can harm them and their family at will.

Walking further and putting on the imaginary hat of an incurable utopian, I wondered if we could somehow eradicate genocide.

Unfortunately I suspect that our capacity to perpetrate genocide is an inseparable part of human nature. Trying to erase this trait from our character would be as foolish as say trying to develop a vaccine against violent behaviour. Instead, I think a solution lies in discovering functioning social architectures that acknowledge this default of human nature and somehow work to channel it into something positive.

At first when I heard the results of Google's Project 10 to the 100 competition I was disappointed. Mainly because none of the final ideas selected resembled the one I submitted, but also because some of the ideas seemed ridiculous. In particular, their proposition for a "genocide monitoring and alert system" seemed impossibly idealistic and unrealistic. Upon reflection I can increasingly see the sense in such an idea.

It was a lovely morning, so I kept walking, wondering if all we had to do was wait for Google to fix the world.

Large scale solutions aside, it seems the first and most basic line of defence against genocide is privacy. If you don't know where I am or who my family is, of course there is no way you can harm me. This could explain the reluctance of many of my european friends to embrace concepts like gmail. If World War II were to repeat itself, having a record of every email someone had ever sent would make it very easy to generate the most terrifying of lists. I guess that's why they keep going on about the importance of privacy and possibly why this right should be fundamentally protected in the constitution of any 'free' state.

I had walked far enough, it was time to turn back, but where did all this leave me?

In a society where we still live in fear (however slight) of small or large scale genocide, privacy is your ally. Until we have evolved strongly genocide-resistant social structures, we must always exercise and defend our right to choose how much we reveal and how much we keep to ourselves, if not for our own protection, then for the protection of our families.