Web Standards Group Considering Tribute to Ray Bradbury
A group that develops technical standards for the web is considering a proposal to honor the fiction of Ray Bradbury with an internet error code. The Internet Engineering Task Force is expected to decide later this month whether to adopt a code inspired by Bradbury’s "Fahrenheit 451".
Probably the most familiar status code is 404 – page not found. But there’s no code that signals the site is being blocked by government censors. Software developer Tim Bray suggested the code 451 to some of his colleagues on the Task Force. He says the error code could shed light on censorship when it happens.
That shouldn’t be done in a secret way, Bray says. “It should be done in a public way and when it happens, people should be told why it’s happening."
It’s not clear whether Bradbury, who died last month, would have welcomed the idea. He said his novel was not about censorship, but the impact of technology and the media. And he was deeply critical of the Internet, calling it a big distraction.
Bray said he was inspired by a recent case in the UK where the court ordered ISPs and search engines to block access to Pirate Bay. That resulted in ambiguous or misleading error messages that implied that traffic was being blocked by the web site.