The Giftschrank

Inspired by listening to http://99percentinvisible.org/episode/the-giftschrank/

In German,
Gift = poison
Schrank = case or cabinet

So a Giftschrank is a poison case. In a pharmacy, a Giftschrank is where the controlled substances go. But in a library, its a biohazard zone for information. Somewhere to put books, materials, or other information storage media which is neither completely censored nor completely open access. Somewhere where information can physically be controlled so that only the people the gatekeepers decide can access the material, do.

On the one hand, that is really sounds like censorship to me, at least in a public library. Oh, not complete censorship, i.e. banning. But a form of censorship.

On the other hand, it's the same thing as a special collection in a library. Maybe a different cultural context, between an American special collection and a German Giftshrank, but special collections control access to materials (as do archives by the way). I mean the avowed purposes for all the special collections I've heard about are preventing theft and protecting the physical integrity of the special collection items (most special collection items are old, rare, or both); same stated purposes for archives. Actually in an archive, the items could literally be unique – destroyed or stolen and those items (and their information/historical value) disappear from history.

And we, as a society, try to control information and access to information all the time, both explicitly and with softer methods. Businesses keep proprietary information behind their firewalls all the time. Parents limit access to television shows as well as steer their kids towards some information, by bringing it into the house, which implicitly steers them away from the rest of the firehose of human-generated information. Neither of which even touch on militaries and spy agencies with their operational information (not even glancing at spy agencies and domestic 'intelligence gathering').

Total transparency means no privacy and information overload. Information denial limits individuals' agency and ability to make decisions for themselves.

So I guess it all comes down to the gatekeepers – do we, the people, trust them? Are the rules and procedures they use available and transparent? Are they applied consistently? How and when are things moved out from behind the gatekeepers and become publicly available? And how does the general public have a say in that?

How do we ensure trust in the gatekeepers?

 

And now I need develop a gaming scenario or set piece centered around a Giftschrank in Call of Cthulhu/Delta Green or Eclipse Phase.