The big difference from what Orwell described in 1984 is that we are the ones who installed the telescreens and we are the ones recording. With social media we record every aspect of our life. And if we don’t record it, there is always somebody else who will be recording it. Facebook has probably more than 1000 pages of historic data on you, most likely no other service (national and international security services included) will have so much information about you, and Facebook is just one of the many services in the social media landscape. It is the big memory of the Web, if you like it or not.
It is great to have the opportunity to record everything of everybody, since you can revisit things, just like you might have done in the ‘old days’ with photo albums (the offline variant). However a photo album used to be something that was stuffed on a shelf in your house and when you wanted it you would get it out and share it with others. The sharing part was very limited and often only initiated by you and sometimes by somebody else who was visiting you and wanted to see the pictures. However sharing today is 24/7, there is no limit on who is accessing it and when the content is being accessed. Your digital footprint will be always there.
The great thing about our human brain is that we forget things, it is often an undervalued ability. By forgetting things we make a distinction between stuff worth remembering (or stuff we get remember of by others often) and stuff not worth remembering. Facebook (and other services) have just one setting: remember everything and even worse: make everything searchable so you don’t even have to remember it exactly to catch up.
That is why I think there is the need for a new kind of app (or layer, building on other infrastructure): iForget, which makes recorded data more fluent. Data is not stored for ever anymore but only for a short period. Still everything is recorded, however not everything is stored for ever:
- Your social checkins: just for a day or so, after that nobody cares where you have been, plus it is good to not leave a trail on that.
- Your holiday pictures: just for a few weeks so people interested can view them, however we don’t have to revisit them over and over. Sometimes remembering an event is a better experience than revisiting it.
- Your updates: just for a few days, it is awkward to have every conversation recorded and being replayed, if the thing you were saying was important people will remember it.
iForget will enable you to record everything you want, however it will enable you with the opportunity to digitally forget as well. Since if you cannot revisit everything you did it will help you to have a more relevant digital footprint. Though it will also help you remember the really important things, since things you remember shouldn’t necessarily be the things you could record, it should be things that you can relive when you close your eyes, things you want to share with others even you don’t have any recorded media about.
You share your content for the moment with iForget, not for a lifetime. Since moments are worth sharing, though not for a lifetime.
For the ones that were wondering, no this isn’t the app since the app I wrote about is still fictional, though it would be nice if you could make a digital footprint disappear so easily.