Forthcoming in the March, 2023 issue of Locus Magazine.

Cory Doctorow
10 min readJan 15

A room full of telephone operators at a switchboard; their heads have been replaced with hacker-in-a-hoodie heads. On the wall behind them is a poster ad for Facebook with the slogan, ‘Find Your Facebook Group.’ Atop the switchboard stands a small elephant with a bite taken out of its back.
Felix Andrews/CC BY-SA 3.0 (modified)

Within the very first year of operation, 1878, Bell’s company learned a sharp lesson about combining teenage boys and telephone switchboards…they played clever tricks with the switchboard plugs: disconnecting calls, crossing lines so that customers found themselves talking to strangers, and so forth.

-Bruce Sterling, The