Tag Archives: research methods

IMHO “Delete: The virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age”

Viktor Mayer-Shonberger’s book “Delete: The virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age” evoked a vast thread of discussion. Thorough reading of the top reviews that appeared on the first two pages of the Google search has permitted me to formulate my own point of view on the suggested matter.

It seems to me that the main idea, of the digital world that would never forget anything about you, has a right to exist and in general context serves a good mission. It could be regarded as red flag for those who haven’t got the message yet: there are NO games with digital space.

I call it “digital space” because at this crucial point I disagree with the author. It couldn’t be possibly named a “memory”, in terms of human understanding of the term “memory”. Human memory comprises of 3 types of memories: sensory, short-term and long-term. Computers used for storage purposes have the latter two only. Till this time not a single digitally encoded machine could copy the processes that involve sensory memory. It doesn’t work as selectively as human brain does (putting away the memories, erasing them permanently or leaving them forever).  That’s why the suggested solution for putting the expiration date on every bit of information won’t work as our own brain itself doesn’t work by this template!

That is why I’ll try to reformulate the problem that we’re facing right now. The major concern is how we should deal with that huge amount of constantly encoding & multiplying data.

As for the author’s point of view in future  everybody could become hostage of the Google search history, embarrassing tags on Facebook etc. He explains that this information would never be deleted from the server’s storage and could be retrieved at any moment. He gives a number of rather “cliche examples” how professional life has been ruined with a simple tag of inappropriate photos uploaded to online albums.

I look at it from the different perspective. The main problem isn’t really the idea of us being tracked within every click online, but our inability to react intelligently with the tools Of Digital Age that we’re given, saber space in particular. If you don’t want to be fired, think before uploading/writing inappropriate things. Before adding a new friend on Facebook think twice what is the purpose you’re adding him/her: is it that you would like to share your private life with this person or you simply want to increase your friend list?.. Most of the time we twist the idea of social networks and forget what they serve for. If you want to keep your life in total privacy, simply stay “Digitally abstinent” – no accounts in social networks, strictly professional use of email; phone and face to face meetings only. I personally know those kind of people and nobody forces them to go online.

So, all this possible “threat” of the stored data used against you will happen only in a limited number of cases: when you play important role in the society i.e. being a politician, public figure etc.  For the rest masses of people I have only one answer “you are not as valuable as you think you are!” . The worst security scenario that could happen is that you may get involved into target advertising campaigns that are there anyway already as “suggested items” banners on our accounts. But again, the question isn’t really in the cookies that were “stolen” from your laptop cache, but the final choice you make ”to click or not on that banner” & whether to pay attention to it at all or not.

I could go further on with the examples of teenagers using digital space irrationally, but I would go in circles and repeat again level of education they got from their parents on that matter, notion of freedom that they haven’t learnt to use yet.
Finally I still find the idea of Viktor Mayer-Shonberger of “not forgetting memory of Digital Age” to be a bit exaggerated in individual case of average user, and while trying to embrace the negative aspects of it I have got to the psychological backgrounds of the isslies. After all it’s just simple human behaviour that lies behind it.

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