Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Your Digital Shadow Won't Matter That Much

The 2012 US presidential elections are in full swing and the campaigns on both sides are doing the best they can to attract voters. Well, their best and sometimes not so best mud-slinging is today an integral part of the presidential show. Those constant questions about who’s done what at some point in their lives as both sides hope that they can dig out something bad. Something that will swing those undecided voters who seem to be making up their mind based on what they hear in a late night commercial sponsored by a presidential candidate.

But don’t despair, it won’t always stay like this. The time is coming, where the digging won’t be necessary any longer. Thanks to the Internet, our lives are becoming more and more transparent. Increasingly, the information about our work, hobbies, networks, likes and dislikes is being documented. You want to know what I’m doing for living? Well, just Google my name and see what comes up. Are you the member of a club? Do you compete on weekends? Are you associated with people in a particular organization? Have you taken part in a fundraiser? All of that is out there. For posterity.

Lot of information is out there about all of us
Today, it is still a novelty as we are discovering all these information sources - LinkedIn, Twitter, SlideShare, YouTube, Flickr, and other social media tell a lot about us and not just to our friends. Our property records were always public but now they are increasingly available - just check out Zillow. If you want to see how well Will Ferrell did in the 2003 Boston Marathon or how your neighbor did in last week’s race, just check out www.althlinks.com. It’s all there, online. Together with your employment history, info about your friends, your education, your phone number and so much more. All of us have a digital shadow that is already available today. And we are barely getting started.
Not to pick on Mr. Gates - do you know the value of his house?
I believe, that all this transparency will eventually lead to a profound change in our attitude. Simply said, we won’t care as much. I don’t mean that we won’t care about what people do. Sure, it will always be interesting finding out about our friends’ recent travel or about some unexpected hobbies of a celebrity. And we might even care about what the politicians have done in the past. But we won’t care about finding out. Right now, it is still a novelty finding something out about somebody - a friend, a colleague or a presidential candidate. Finding out something is surprising and thus fascinating. But that novelty will wear off.

Pretty soon, our life story will be just a mouse click away. Everybody’s past will be well documented. The story will be right in front of us if we chose so. We might walk around with  “Google goggles” that will be applying augmented reality techniques to overlay the information about everything and everyone we look at. We will be used to it and it won’t matter by far as much. All this info will have about the same value as which town you live in today. Sure, that’s interesting for the first 5 seconds after you meet someone but 10 seconds later, it doesn’t matter anymore. Everybody lives somewhere and most of the time, it is not worth writing articles about. Even if it is a presidential candidate.

Your digital shadow won’t matter that much - because everybody will have one.

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