Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Delete looks at the surprising phenomenon of perfect remembering in the digital age, and reveals why we must reintroduce our capacity to forget. 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.
In Delete, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger traces the important role that forgetting has played throughout human history, from the ability to make sound decisions unencumbered by the past to the possibility of second chances. The written word made it possible for humans to remember across generations and time, yet now digital technology and global networks are overriding our natural ability to forget--the past is ever present, ready to be called up at the click of a mouse. Mayer-Schönberger examines the technology that's facilitating the end of forgetting--digitization, cheap storage and easy retrieval, global access, and increasingly powerful software--and describes the dangers of everlasting digital memory, whether it's outdated information taken out of context or compromising photos the Web won't let us forget. He explains why information privacy rights and other fixes can't help us, and proposes an ingeniously simple solution--expiration dates on information--that may.
Delete is an eye-opening book that will help us remember how to forget in the digital age.
true information symmetry. At first look, it sounds like a nifty idea, but it is unclear to me how it could prevent the impulse transactional partners have—as the case of eBay’s reputation mechanism so strikingly demonstrates—of gaming the system. Of course, reciprocal transparency may still be beneficial for society, even if it fails to prevent individuals from providing each other with incorrect information. Consider that in the analog age, if one had a dark side, he could hide it. If you
privacy.12 If the original information privacy rights were more focused on the question of individual consent, information privacy is now seen as an individual’s right to shape her participation in society.13 In an interconnected world, the right to information privacy can no longer be understood as a binary right of consent, of an absolute yes or no, but has to be reconstituted in a much more nuanced fashion, linking consent with the specific purposes and conditions of information processing. It
sharing of information with others, reflecting the “power” dimension of digital remembering. The second set had at its heart the human process of using information for decision-making, echoing the “time” dimension. The responses in each set used a distinct mechanism to regulate human behavior: social norms and individual self-control, formal laws, and (technical) architecture. See Table 5.1. TABLE 5.1. Potential Responses to the Demise of Forgetting Information Power (incl. information
of the table (addressing primarily the “power” dimension of digital remembering) seem a bit more developed and robust is not surprising. It is the result of decades of study, activism, debate, and enactment of measures to combat the perceived loss of information privacy. Nor is the relative weakness of solutions in the right column (addressing the “time” dimension) very startling. Only the recent rise of digital memory and the related demise of forgetting have brought this challenge to the fore.
some enforcement, especially if a rule is widely accepted in society. If circumvention of expiration dates is frowned upon in society, enforced by law, and made harder through limited technical measures, resulting compliance may be sufficient. Fifth, as I explained earlier, expiration dates are not immune to differences in information power. For example, when expiration dates are being jointly set by two or more parties, the more powerful may push the less powerful to agree to an expiration