Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer Series-Desgined To Forget

In the current issue of Wired Magazine (Aug. 2009) there is an interesting commentary on Forgetting. The author, Clive Thompson, argues that we have forgotten to forget. He says:

"For most of human history, almost everything people did was forgotten, simply because it was so hard to record and retrieve things. But there was a benefit: "Social Forgetting" allowed everyone to move on from embarrassing or ill-conceived moments in their lives. Digital tools have eliminated that amnesty. Google caches copies of our blog postings; social networking sites thrive by archiving our daily dish."

Clive goes on to talk about how services like and Flickr allow users to set expiration dates on the data they upload to those sites. He argues that any site, especially social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace need to at least give users the option to set an expiration date for postings.

Then I got to thinking about the kids we teach and work with everyday. Most of the time they have good judgment and are careful about what information they put online. (Or at least we hope so...) But there are those situations that arise where their judgment lapses and they post something they may regret later.

Do we need to be teaching kids and students social networking responsibility? Heck Yeah! But should social networks, photo sharing sites and file sharing sites share some of the burden as well? Should sites like these, by default, have data that expires after a certain period of time. (If you wanted it to stay longer you could change the period.) Or should there just be the option? What do you think?


  1. What a great idea, Steve! When building my school's website, I have the option to have assets expire when I want them to, so why can't we have this option? Wouldn't it free up space on servers for services that have hundreds of thousands of users?

    I am interested to see if this idea goes anywhere & whether Clive's article will have any influence or sway.

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