Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A breach of security

What has happened in this world of ours? How can something kept so tightly under wraps possibly leak out to the wrong people? How can we survive everything else that's happening when even the tightest of security can't possibly keep information from leaking out?

Why, oh why, did someone have to go and leak a potential full copy of the new Harry Potter book?

Wait a minute... a book? Not trade secrets, not weapons plans, not anything that could damage the integrity of a government, but a work of fiction? And, it should be pointed out, a work of fiction which, in the past, been part of other "spoilers" being leaked, simply because people found out inside information before the previous books were available for sale. And yet, people everywhere (and yes, we've fallen into this, too, but for our own twisted purpose) are spending time worrying about what this could possibly mean to the world as a whole, now that the entire book is allegedly available online a whopping four days early.

Now don't get us wrong. While we haven't actually read any of the books, we've heard good things. We've seen the sheer numbers of children, teenagers, and young adults flocking to the book store, instead of flocking to the video game store, and we have to respect anything that can bring that kind of a reaction. But what started out as a decent story has snowballed into an event. A phenomenon. A defining moment for many people. Ten years from now, instead of asking where you were when the Berlin Wall fell, people will ask where you were when the final Harry Potter book was released. And that may be why some people are so up in arms over the notion of spoilers.

By the same token, this is a book which has definitely found a strong niche in sci-fi/fantasy fandom. Given that this is a group of people who are proud of their ability to not only find every advance detail to a film, but then pride themselves on still seeing the movie on the big screen, if only to find errors or omissions, spoilers shouldn't come as anything of a shock. And, as has been pointed out, specifically by Bruce Schneier, "Anyone fan-crazed enough to read digital photographs of the pages a few days before the real copy comes out is also someone who is going to buy a real copy." After all, if you can't wait the small amounts of time between when spoilers are released and when the actual event happens, well, then you've also got a good chance of being the type to obsessively collect things, just so you can say that you have them all.

So please, everyone, calm down. If the "leak" wasn't merely a publicity stunt to drive the excitement beyond its current fever pitch, then it was someone trying to gain some closure to bigger questions than, "Who shot J.R.?" After all, it's not like they're telling us that the presidential election of 2008 will be won by China, after we hand over nuclear technology to Barbados in a bizarre swap. They posted images.

Of a book.

That an extremely large portion of the world will be reading in a week.

And really, isn't part of the goal to keep people reading, in the first place? Looks like mission accomplished to us.

Now, if you don't mind, we've got to get back to page 597.

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