Are we finally living in 1984?

Watching the watchers
How do you feel about the world we are creating right now?

What were your thoughts when the #PRISM news hit the headlines and Edward Snowden appeared in your browser saying these words?..

“If living unfreely but comfortably is something you’re willing to accept, and I think many of us are, it’s the human nature, you can get up every day, you can go to work, you can collect your large paycheck for relatively little work against the public interest, and go to sleep at night after watching your shows. But if you realize that’s the world that you helped create, and it’s going to get worse with the next generation, and the next generation, who extend the capabilities of this sort of architecture of oppression, you realize that you might be willing to accept any risk, and it doesn’t matter what the outcome is, so long as the public gets to make their own decisions about how that’s applied.”

This quote also appeared in an article in the New Yorker. It’s well worth a read.

My Friend Dr John Perivolaris shared the link with me and its title inspires the same question at the beginning of this blog post.

For more context here is the Snowden video interview on the Guardian website.

People sat round Orwell's grave on his birthday.

For the last six years myself and John have met at George Orwell‘s grave to hold, in John’s words, a symposium in the strictest sense of the term, i.e. A reasoned discussion over food and drink.

Back in 2007 when the term ‘social media’ was much cooler we called it a social media picnic. And every year since we have sat on the grass sharing food and drink, experiences and stories. We ask questions and discuss surveillance, privacy, threatened freedoms, civil liberties… all things 1984.

This year we are calling it the 1984 Symposium. Even though it happens every year.

Orwell's HeadstoneIf you can make it to Orwell’s (Eric Arthur Blair’s) grave at 11am on the 25th of June, bring a picnic and your thoughts on the question: Are we finally living in 1984?

If you can’t make it, please leave your thoughts below in the comments or on Twitter or ADN via the hash tag #1984symposium

If you wish to share your thoughts anonymously I’m afraid it’s not that easy. Those that know how to can send them to the email listed on this site. Via PGP or anonymously. Others may want to create a Jabber account. Add me at and we can chat via the app ChatSecure on iOS or Gibberbot on Android. There is also the Open Source encrypted video chat platform called Jitsi.

Every year at Orwell’s Grave has been enlightening, entertaining, inspirational. One year we even got to meet a witness to Orwell’s burial.

Details of how to get there are below. Bring some food & drink, something to sit on, your thoughts regarding the question above and an open mind.

If you have any more questions please leave a comment or I’m @Documentally on Twitter or ADN.

Time: 11am  – till whenever.

Location: The Church of All Saints, The Green, Sutton Courtenay,

Oxfordshire, OX144AE

Google Map: link

Approximate Grid Reference: 51.643973,-1.270901

Bring: Food, drink, something to sit on, Answer to the Question: Are we finally living in 1984?


Here is a selection of audio recorded at Orwell’s graveside over the years.

If you do want to attempt a decent shot at anonymity online, try working through this list…

Do your research on the topic by using the search engine:

some links:

Try to take the time to inform yourself by reading manuals and information on the software you plan to install.

Make test runs on your internet whereabouts:


1) Buy a used laptop or android device, pay in cash.

2) Use a free software operating system (Linux: Ubuntu, Mint, Debian, Fedora) or Cyanogenmod for an Android device (+ use free software repository) and configure it safely

3) Be aware of how you access the internet. This is a major factor: Use a VPN (like via openvpn) and/or TOR from public WIFI only.

4) Use Firefox / The TOR Browser / and configure it to disable Javascript via Noscript extension and install extensions like RequestPolicy for safe and conscious browsing.

5) Do not use google, yahoo or bing. Use (and configure it to be the standard engine in Firefox)

6) Don’t use your creditcard or any other personal payment solutions online.

7) Do not use Skype, use with a XMPP (formerly Jabber) account you’ll need to create. This will provide a solution for encrypted chat, voice and video call.

8) Don’t give away any personal data on the web.

9) Do not use gmail or any other commercial webmail services (for email there is and )

10) There is no such thing as 100% secure. Ever.

Open Source software and mapping is the safest bet, but the only guaranteed real way to not be seen online is to not go online. And don’t hang around cameras or people who are online.

UPDATE 19/6/14:

A shot from last year (2013):

Some of the Attendees from 2013

I’ll be there in 2014. The 7th year running. All are welcome.


  1. steveprior says

    I hope to be there, this is the same day as my children’s school sports day so want to decide on priorities on that day.

    I’ve never read 1984 but do have a feeling as to what it’s about.

    There are lots of ways to frame the question “Are we finally living in 1984″ One aspect is state hidden security but is the real question one of degrees of freedom?

    Like it or not the state has lots of control over us via the economic money system.

    The Pound, the Euro, the Dollar and other Fiat currencies keep us on the perpetual treadmill because we must pay our taxes with them. Inflation and other tools are far more dangerous to our well being and freedom than most realise.

    If the state really wanted people to think freely, why do we send our children to school factories and with a state mandated curriculum?

    Hope to be there for a chat and to listen to others ideas and thoughts.



    • says

      Thanks for the comment Steve. Family first but if you do get the chance after/before it would be great to see you.

      It is certainly not mandatory to have read 1984 for those coming along. :)

      You made some great points. The school issue in particular is a hard one for any parent to deal with.

  2. says

    *This* event is in my bucket list. A must-do, in person, upon retirement. Until then…I remain steadfast in my support and participate vicariously via everyone’s generous audioboos, video clips, photos, tweets, blogposts and the like. This will be follow #5 for me.

  3. says

    I follow this, from afar, every year. The visit to EAB’s gravesite only gets more relevant with time. Looking forward to the 2014 coverage. Hopefully some good audio & maybe even a little video. I’ll be there in spirit, as always. @bundini @jeffbundy