The end of forgetting

The Web Means the End of Forgetting … lengthy but fascinating article about how the Internet, especially social media, have huge implications for our identity (or identities) and privacy, and where things may go legally, ethically, and socially in the coming years.

It’s often said that we live in a permissive era, one with infinite second chances. But the truth is that for a great many people, the permanent memory bank of the Web increasingly means there are no second chances — no opportunities to escape a scarlet letter in your digital past. Now the worst thing you’ve done is often the first thing everyone knows about you.

Now doesn’t THAT sound scary? But we’re still in the growing pains stage of the explosion of sharing ourselves digitally, complicated by rapid development of new ways that can be done and exploited. In the long run, those photos of you drinking with buddies may be seen as no big deal, as they really are. It’s just that we have to get to that point first.


About songdogmi

I'm a longhaired almost-hippie stuck in the inner suburbs of a major rust-belt metropolis who's thoughtful, creative, and kind of geeky. In exchange for a paycheck I run around in a cubicle maze most days. When I escape, I play music, hang out in coffee houses, dink around on the computer, take naps, and think I should be off in the woods somewhere. Every once in a while I get in my car and drive far, far away, though I've always come back so far.
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6 Responses to The end of forgetting

  1. vaneramos says:

    In February CBC broadcast an interview with Viktor Mayer-Schönberger about his book. You can read the transcript here.

  2. eselgeist says:

    it’s only scary until you realize it holds for everybody, and everybody has Dumb Shit that won’t go away. This will be particularly when we have a generation of adult decision makers who all will have gone through adolescence on-line.

    • songdogmi says:

      I think you’re right… the shock factor will wear off and a lot more people will realize that they’ve been seen partying with a beer in their hand, for example, and it’ll be no big deal.

      I wonder if it may take longer than we think it will, because America seems to lag when it comes to evolving, especially in the “flyover” areas between the coasts. But the rapid pace of technological change may force it to happen quickly.

  3. tastyeagle says:

    Yes, there are even websites like Encyclopedia Dramatica which distills all the dumb shit that individuals do into a central location so that it’s easier to find.

    I fear for our society. Sometimes, people make a dumb mistake and they want to put it behind them. But thanks to websites like that, years after the fact, everyone will be hearing about their personal gaffes. Like being jabbed in a poorly-healing scar.

    • songdogmi says:

      What’s even better is, there are sites that not only gather your social media output (photos, blogs, Tweets, etc.) but also traditional “personal” information like your address, income, home value, etc. Kind of a cross between Encyclopedia Dramatica, the Yellow Pages, and a credit report, almost. If it’s not in one spot, that data being in just two or three spots isn’t that much better.

      Who’s going to go looking? Who knows? Most of us are not noteable enough to where people would care to go look. That anonynimity hides people. I have to say that I’m happy I’m not in the job market now, though.

      I think that eventually people will be more forgiving, and compromising photos and such will not be an issue (up to a point, maybe, but that point will be much further out than it is now). But that’ll take time, and people of a certain age today may not see the benefit of that.

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