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Preserving… the human race?

May 5, 2010
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Everything is online these days. And anyone can tell you that, not just the 20-somethings and the younger generation who have been raised in a web-world of wonderment. My grandmother asked me the other day, in regards to — well, I don’t remember, actually (let’s blame that on Google making me stupid, shall we?) — anyway, she said to me, “Can’t you find that online?” She’s honing in on 80.

This morning I logged onto Facebook to find this message on a friend’s status:

There’s a site called Spokeo.com, a new online phone book w/personal information: everything from your pics posted online, approx credit score, home
value, income, address, age, etc. To remove yourself: search for yourself to find the URL of your page, copy it and then click on “Privacy” at the bottom of the page and paste the URL to remove yourself.

Of course, I immediately checked it out, and found that according to Spokeo.com (or spookey.com as some friends commented) informed me that there are three Linda Misiura’s on the East Coast, and one of them was me… at least by my address. Now, that’s worrisome, but really, a quick Google search would probably bring that up anyway. As I explored further, I discovered that spokeo.com thinks that I’m in my 70s and that I have below average income. While the income thing is most certainly true and I have just hit a major mile marker as far as age, it just wasn’t quite that high up the scale. So I left it, as is, because really, that’s not me.

Our personal information is available in numerous places online, more than likely, and also more than likely, we are the ones that put it there. From profiles on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to online shopping systems like PayPal and GoogleCheckout to random services we sign up for on the web, we’re constantly putting our information out there. Are we putting too much on the web? Not enough? The wrong things?

The Internet makes it possible for us to track every aspect of our lives and preserve it for posterity. But what happens if there is no web? What happens if, or the cynical might perhaps say when, the digital breaks down? Will be lose everything? There is a movement being made right now to preserve everything digitally… but is this too much risk? Are we preserving the human race for eternity or are we risking losing everything?

The argument is to be made for backups, I think. And in this case, we have to think about keeping hardcopies of the really important things that archeologists will be looking for in the future, just in case the unthinkable occurs.

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