Censored Internet sites may soon show sly Ray Bradbury tribute

Contributed by
Dec 17, 2012, 3:27 PM EST

Dystopia may be on its way, but at least we can laugh about it. With governments cracking down on websites that traffic in illegal content, one witty software developer has a novel idea—we're blocking sites anyway, so why not honor Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury in the process?

Developer Tim Bray is proposing that, when a website is blocked for legal reasons, users be given a "status code 451"—in honor of Bradbury's most famous novel. The code is being pitched in Britain, and would join codes such as "404 Not Found," and "504 Gateway Timeout."

Bray told The Guardian the idea could serve as both a nice honor to the late author and a reminder of the dystopia that the world could become if censorship ran rampant:

"We can never do away entirely with legal restrictions on freedom of speech. On the other hand, I feel that when such restrictions are imposed, they should be done so transparently; for example, most civilised people find Britain's system of superinjunctions loathsome and terrifying. While we may agree on the existence of certain restrictions, we should be nervous whenever we do it; thus the reference to the dystopian vision of Fahrenheit 451 may be helpful. Also, since the internet exists in several of the many futures imagined by Bradbury, it would be nice for a tip of the hat in his direction from the net, in the year of his death."

Sound off: Do you think a "code 451" is a cool idea?

(The Daily What via The Guardian)