A technology company is developing texts that will self destruct after you read them (delete themselves after a fixed amount of time from 5 seconds to 6 days). It’s part of an effort to make the web impermanent In other words they are trying to keep the internet from logging every text/picture/post/tweet you make.
Normally I would argue about why this is good, but you’ve read that post. Actually, you probably have read dozens of them. So instead I’m going to argue for why it’s good the internet knows everything about you.
1. You buy stuff and we want to sell it to you: Like it or not every purchase and every “like” on Facebook is being stored and analyzed to determine what you might want to buy next. Your e-mails are trolled and tailor made text ads are served up for you (including many delightful spam recipes . Amazon tracks your recently viewed products and serves up things people bought after looking at that item, as well as trying to predict from your wish lists, your previous purchases, and your data everywhere else what you’ve really got your heart set on. This seems creepy but it’s not. Buying is still a discretionary choice. You can ignore ads, you can skip over recommendations, but there might be times you won’t want to. If the algorithms are good enough, maybe Amazon knows about something you don’t. You might buy more than you need, but that’s not the internet’s fault.
2. You might be a criminal: Even if you’re not right now you may become one someday. Don’t you want the police to know where your favorite hangouts are and be able to gather evidence about you swiftly so you can get through the fuss of a trial and start paying back your debt to society? Okay, maybe not you, but there are plenty of criminals out there who are caught because of what they leave on the net. There are YouTube videos showing people’s real faces bragging about a robbery they just pulled off. The head of the CIA was felled by e-mail. The internet is a valuable crime fighting resource.
3. You haven’t changed that much: Yes, you might be embarrassed that 14 year old you liked N’Sync. But let’s face it, Justin if anything has gotten more awesome (from SNL appearances to wearing NPR shirts). And a good algorithm will know your current tastes probably inform your choices more than the ancient past. Actually the internet might want to clear your taste preferences older than 7 years, but on the other hand all of us get nostalgic from time to time.
4. The more you put out there, the harder you are to know: This runs a little afoul of my previous points but data glut can actually serve to defend you. You are currently reading a guy who likes soapy K-Dramas, Star Trek, The West Wing and was actually a little sad Partners was canceled. I collect Star Trek comic books, Bone, Sandman, Batman Graphic Novels and Manga (of huge variety from Oh My Goddess to Rurouni Kenshin). I play games from Raving Rabbids to Max Payne. So what do you know about me? Well, he likes Star Trek, but otherwise it might be a little hard to draw general conclusions besides “he’s a man of eclectic tastes”. He’ll watch Love Actually but not Hope Floats.
5. Without you I wouldn’t have a job: Seriously folks. Data and I are a thing. No data-centers without data. No monitoring without data-centers. Just sayin’.
Have a pleasant day. Let me know how it’s going in blog comments, facebook posts and tweets.