NSA Document Released: “Untangling The Internet”

| Educate!

Above Photo: From muckrock.com

The NSA’s guide to the internet is the weirdest thing you’ll read today

“Untangling the Web” cites Borges, Freud, and Ovid – and that’s just the preface

The NSA has a well-earned reputation for being one of the tougher agencies to get records out of, making those rare FOIA wins all the sweeter. In the case of Untangling the Web, the agency’s 2007 guide to internet research, the fact that the records in question just so happen to be absolutely insane are just icing on the cake – or as the guide would put it, “the nectar on the ambrosia.”

MuckRock’s Michael Morisy initially requested the guide after finding an entry on Google Books. A month later, the NSA responded with a complete release, minus the author’s names …

Employees

Which was a bit odd, seeing as Michael had provided them in his initial request. But hey, gift horses and all that.

Now, at 650 pages, there’s far too much to go into depth here, but fortunately, as you can see from the table of contents …

Clew_rPRQV9r

you don’t have to go very far before this takes a hard turn into “Dungeons and Dragons campaign/Classics major’s undergraduate thesis” territory.

The preface employs a comical number of metaphors to describe what the internet is and isn’t – sometimes two a paragraph. But don’t take our word for it!

According to the NSA, the internet is …

A Persian’s personal library:

Preface1

Sisyphus’ boulder …

Sisyphus

A Freudian psycho-sexual pleasure palace …

Frued

A Borgesian world-consuming knowledge-cancer …

Tlon

A labyrinth (with bonus Mino-Troll):

MinoTroll

Two quick asides – one, in case your memory needed jogging as to what aclew was, the footnote helpfully provides that information …

Footnote

and two, before you cry foul that the beast in the center of the labyrinth isclearly a centaur, Ovid technically just describes the Minotaur as “half-man and half-bull” without specifying which half is which, so that interpretation is valid, if a bit needlessly obscure.

But while we’re on the subject of pedantic footnotes …

A shape-changing sea-god:Proteus

And finally, jumping ahead 600 pages, an endless frontier/a cemetery of dead ideas/a reminder of your aunt’s 15-minutes of fame:

conclusion

After that journey of discover, Untangling the Web ends perhaps the only way it could: with a back cover design that looks cribbed from a ‘90s Christian rock album.