An Open Letters Project for Hossein Derakhshan

Posts tagged ‘sabrinadent’

Letter #1: Sabrina Dent

Dear Hoder:

So this begins what I what I hope will be a very short correspondence; I’m sorry it’s going to be one-sided, but there isn’t very much I can do about that. Traditionally, correspondents know at least something of each other, but you and I have never crossed paths, so perhaps a pen-pal type summary is in order. I’m a 39 year old American woman, though I’m an ex-pat of long standing. I live in Ireland with my activist husband, no children and a much-loved dog. I design and develop websites for startups, mostly Irish ones, and I’m a Metafilter member like you.

I’ve never been in prison; it’s hard for me to imagine what daily life (from the horrific to the mundane) would be like, but I often have the completely stupid thought: I would really miss the internet. I’m aware that deprivation of WiFi isn’t really going to rank up there with deprivation of liberty, but I also can’t help feeling like after 15 formative years of 24/7 use, “online” is part of who I am and that I would, in some small way, feel cast apart from my very identity without it.

The press has reported that you’ve been granted leave twice in the past few months – once in December and again in May. I have no idea what I would want most on a 48 or 72-hour leave from prison (my favourite foods? an amazing bath? just the freedom to walk outside?) but there’s a part of me that hopes you got your hands on an iPad while you were out. I know they came out long after you were arrested in 2008, but it’s actually hard to imagine they’ve only been on the market for just over a year – they pretty much took over on arrival and kind of changed everything in technology land overnight. The idea that I would be designing newsletters in the knowledge that 15% of them would be read on a devices that don’t even have a real keyboard would never have occurred to me in years gone by. Then again, historically I’ve proven to be a pretty poor futurist, so that’s probably lack of imagination on my part.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I was transported 50 or 100 years into the future. Technology and communication changes so fast even today; would the devices and technologies of the future be something I could pick up and embrace, or would they seem unnatural and difficult to grasp because I didn’t develop understanding and  skills for them as they themselves developed? I suspect I would step out of my personal Tardis a Luddite in a strange land, unable to cope with a future that had left me behind. I hope that whenever you are eventually, permanently released, that isn’t your experience. Blogger, where your activism took hold, is still there — and geeze, if LiveJournal isn’t dead yet, Blogger’s probably good for a long, long run.

Thinking of you,