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A British Museum Is Showing Off a MacBook Air -- But Not Because of Apple's Design

The laptop the Guardian used to store Edward Snowden's NSA data is on display, less than two years after the paper destroyed it.

The Guardian/ Victoria & Albert Museum
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

It’s common for Apple employees and fans to describe Apple products as works of art.

But the MacBook Air on display at Britain’s Victoria & Albert Museum isn’t there for design reasons.

It’s the laptop Guardian employees destroyed in 2013, at the behest of British intelligence officials, because the paper had used it to store data leaked from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

It’s part of an exhibit about “the museum as a public space and the role of public institutions in contemporary life,” and it’s the featured piece in a display about “the contradiction between our concern for online privacy, and our obsession with sharing via social media.”

The other items in that display: “CryptoPhone 500, a secure, military grade mobile phone; an Onion Pi router which enables users to browse the Web anonymously and a selfie stick with a remote shutter release.”

The Guardian asked various art experts to comment on the exhibit. But to me the most striking thing about the display is it reminds us that the Snowden story is less than two years old — and to many will already feel like ancient history. So seeing it in a museum is both apt and a bit depressing.

This article originally appeared on

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