Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Banned in Greenwich?!

Your scribe had what the French call a mauvais quart d'heure yesterday, though it lasted considerably longer than 15 minutes - more like a couple of hours, in fact. The place was the Greenwich Library, and the activity was trying to access his blog's website. But it wasn't happening.

"Error - you are not authorized to view this page." "Error - this page cannot be accessed from this server." These were the messages that continuously flashed on the screen. Undaunted, your scribe tried another computer. And another. And another. The results were the same. His paranoia began to spike. His conclusion: "Greenwich Gossip" was not accessible from any computer controlled by the Town of Greenwich. Talk about an Orwellian moment!

Some years ago the library had its own server, but under Jimmy Lash everything has now been consolidated in the bowels of Town Hall. This means that if Town Hall goes down - as happens from time to time - every other town department, including the libraries, goes down as well. This has led to much grousing in recent years, as the dubious wisdom of this move has become apparent to all and sundry; things were obviously better in the days when a library problem was confined to the library, or a Board of Ed problem to the Board of Ed, or a Town Hall problem to Town Hall. But things are as they are, and Town Hall remains the sole providor and self-appointed guardian of Internet access for all town-owned computers.

Fearing he had been "net-nannied" off the board, your scribe sent a distress signal to the AuthorBabe, who as it happens had just deplaned in Detroit and was en route to her hotel (she's a moving target, that AB). His query: was "Greenwich Gossip" still accessible in wider cyberspace, suggesting that the problem was localized in the Town of Greenwich? He also emailed faithful lurker Ed Krumeich (would it kill you to leave an occasional comment, Ed?), who responded that it struck him as "an interference with First Amendment rights" - which is putting it mildly, IMHO.

The next step was to try a Trojan horse approach, and see if "Greenwich Gossip" could be accessed via links from other sites. A Yahoo Mail link produced the error messages. A link through another blogspot site simply refused to open. Finally, a link through livejournal worked! There it was, in all its glory! At least I knew that the site itself still existed.

Well, dear reader, I am writing this post the next morning from a Town of Greenwich computer, and all appears to be well once again. What happened yesterday? Was someone at Town Hall playing games, or was it just a glitch in the mysterious world of cyberspace? All I can tell you is that in the seven months "Greenwich Gossip" has been gracing the blogosphere, this has never happened before; nor was it just a momentary lapse, but a prolonged one. It gave your scribe time to reflect on how preciously and vitally important those First Amendment rights mentioned by Ed are to all of us. And how important it is to continue to exercise them, even if it upsets the gremlins in the basement and/or other areas of Greenwich Town Hall.


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