Google Glass Or Snapchat: What Do We Want The Internet To Remember?

Posted: Dec 31 2013, 10:06am CST | by , in News

 

 

As it happens regularly, the Internet was full of contradiction on this last week of the year. On one hand, tech media was all over the Internet Archive’s beta site of vintage video games. Jason Scott writes:

Access drives preservation – making these vintage games available to the world, instantly, allows for commentary, education, enjoyment and memory for the history they are a part of.”

And with the anticipation of Google Glass coming to all in 2014, another story that is making the rounds is a video of a bride’s wedding walk, from her own perspective, via the glasses. She tells Mashable:

All my friends told me they were so emotional that they actually forgot walking down the aisle. This was an experience I never want to forget.”

But also this week, Wall Street Journal’s Farhad Manjoo’s piece about Snapchat and the “erasable Internet” continued to resonate. Manjoo writes:

The Forever Internet seemed the only way. Now, with users, investors, and engineers rushing to ephemeral-data apps created in Snapchat’s image, forever-ness isn’t assumed.

The question is not what will be developed — it will all be developed — the question is what we really want. I have personally watched the negative outcomes of a Forever Internet multiple times. It happens when a former student who made the college newspaper through an interview, a heated opinion article or by becoming the news, contacts me to have the article erased from our archives. There it sits, on the front page of Google, whenever their name is searched by a potential boss or new friend or old nemesis. The person has grown up, but that collegiate indiscretion lingers.

I’ve also had an incident on Snapchat, which I use to communicate with nieces and nephews, when a student accidentally sent me pictures of a party night by sending it to all of his connections. When I mentioned it to him, he was terribly embarrassed, though I didn’t really care, but there was comfort in the knowledge that it was gone, at least ostensibly.

So I get why an Erasable Internet seems like a good idea. And for a lot of the communication we generate over the Internet, perhaps it is. I don’t need to repeat Manjoo’s article, where he weighs the costs and benefits of both kinds of Internet in much the same way I would, and rightly concludes:

Big Snapchat-like growth could mean that we’ll have a Forever Internet and an Erasable Internet living side by side.

That side by side creates a third kind of Internet, which works very much like our long-term memory. It functions within the context of the rest of our lives, our present as well as our past, to maintain and mitigate the parts of our lives worth remembering. As everyone knows, it’s a mysterious system. What we remember and why, how we remember it, is imperfect.

Except it is human. And that side by side dynamic Manjoo considers could be similar — an imperfect, but human, compilation of our personal and collective experiences. It could mean an Internet that helps us remember when need and want to, but also know when it is best to forget, or at least quiet, memories that need not stay on the front page of our digital lives.

Source: Forbes

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