data panopticon

Personally, I'm a pack rat -- and probably more so in the digital sense. I still have some of the papers that I wrote back in elementary school stored on some CD. I definitely won't ever (or want to ever) read them again, but I'm just the sort of person who hangs on to those things. Even with photography, I still keep 90% of the shots that I take, even if only 10% or so are good -- the only ones I do delete are the absolutely blurred or black. So stumbling upon this professor's paper that we need to program computers to start forgetting data, puzzled me. However, right off the bat, the point about how for really the first time in human history, the sheer amount of data being generated is exponentially outweighing the about being lost or forgotten.

There are a litany of articles now about how employers will 'google' a prospective employee to see what the world-wide-web has collected (web here takes on a whole new metaphor). I wonder when people from my generation start running for public office, will things they wrote on MySpace or their blog 30 years ago come back to haunt them. Can you imagine if we had access to George Bush's web-print (so to speak)? Suddenly those pictures of that keg party seem like a bad idea to keep around, let alone get out in the wild.

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger has some interesting suggestions on the implications and suggestions regarding this incredible retention of data. I think absolutely there should be something like a digital privacy bill of rights -- dictating in law what data corporations are allowed to do with data they collect on you, your rights to that data (wouldn't you like to see what Amazon and Google have on you?), and who it gets sold to (shouldn't you earn royalties on that sale? Isn't that data yours, not the corporations?). However, given the ignorant state of politics and government on this matter, I'm not going to hold my breath any time soon.

I will probably continue to hoard my digital data as I do with everything else I own. Unlike the clothes in my closet, there is no good-will deposit for my digital data.