The NY Times Sunday Magazine has a thought provoking article by Jeffrey Rosen entitled "The Web Means The End Of Forgetting". It's filled with lots of good points quite relevant to the film biz in this time of audience aggregation and automized taste curation. Rosen points out:
The truth is we can’t possibly control what others say or know or think about us in a world of Facebook and Google, nor can we realistically demand that others give us the deference and respect to which we think we’re entitled. On the Internet, it turns out, we’re not entitled to demand any particular respect at all, and if others don’t have the empathy necessary to forgive our missteps, or the attention spans necessary to judge us in context, there’s nothing we can do about it.
I have been pretty selective about what personal information I put up on the web. Yet at the same time I have rated the heck out of 1000s of titles on Netflix. Granted our tastes are different from our reputations, but needless to say, I was a bit disturbed to find out that that information I gave Netflix was not as private as I thought. I want Netflix and its amazing algorithm to find more films for me to watch, but I don't want others to find me by what I watch.
Among the many good ideas and suggestions within the article was that users could be prompted to select an expiration date before saving any data -- thus the web would forget it for you. It goes on to mention many new innovations on the web to help maintain privacy. Among them, TigerText, which "allows text-message senders to set a time limit from one minute to 30 days after which the text disappears from the company’s servers on which it is stored and therefore from the senders’ and recipients’ phones." It's not named after Tiger Wood's texts to his mistress, btw.
The world is changing. Different generations have different attitudes about privacy. But it is clear we all value it and just as clear as those that can collect such info, aren't truly respecting the responsibility that comes with it.
A University of California, Berkeley, study released in April found that large majorities of people between 18 and 22 said there should be laws that require Web sites to delete all stored information about individuals (88 percent) and that give people the right to know all the information Web sites know about them (62 percent) — percentages that mirrored the privacy views of older adults. A recent Pew study found that 18-to-29-year-olds are actually more concerned about their online profiles than older people are, vigilantly deleting unwanted posts, removing their names from tagged photos and censoring themselves as they share personal information, because they are coming to understand the dangers of oversharing.
We are living at the end times for the Segmented Self. We are watching all our identities merge. Ultimately, this has to mean that we start to take real responsibility, not just for ourselves, but for others, our community, and our world.