Should the web forget?

original image by freeparking

Over at Spirits Dancing, Hilary Talbot wonders if the realtime web should be able to forget:

In real life forgetting is a way of filtering out what is not important, or that which we don't care to remember. We act on the assumption that much of what we say and do will not be remembered either by us or others. Forgetting seems to me to be both a filter to enable us to remember what is important, and a kind of safety valve. Our heads would likely burst if we were able to search and remember everything.

This is also the subject of a new book by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age:

Digital technology empowers us as never before, yet it has unforeseen consequences as well. Potentially humiliating content on Facebook is enshrined in cyberspace for future employers to see. Google remembers everything we've searched for and when. The digital realm remembers what is sometimes better forgotten, and this has profound implications for us all.

Viktor argues that the web should forget, and his proposed solution is "expiration dates on information." Later next month, Nora will interview Viktor Mayer-Schönberger about how this might work, and what gets lost when digital technology allows us to have perfect recall. We'll post the interview here then, but in the meantime, what do you think?

How long should the web remember? Have you been haunted by the digital skeletons in your internet closet? Leave your comments below.

via, hat tip to domideas


Comments are closed.