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What we do on the Web Echoes in Eternity

Lately I’ve been spreading myself all over the internet, in the same way as Jonathan Ross is spread across the TV and radio – admittedly without the wit, fame or eyeball-worrying collection of clothes. As I’ve said in previous entries, I’m a big fan of sites like 43things and last.fm, which are busy either recording what I do automatically or encouraging me to post information up about myself.

This phenomenon of online-ifying your personal life is really gathering speed, and I find myself worrying a little about the persistence of this information. Whilst I’m getting sick to death of myspace related stories, this one highlights the issue nicely. For a while back there it looked like El Murdocho owned your info for ever if you posted anything up – seems this has been resolved to something more satisfactory, but the fact of the matter is that information on the web stays there.

Myspace may crumble and take all those ridiculous abuses of CSS with it, lastfm may forget how many times I’ve listened to Dumb Dumb Dumb by Teenage Fanclub – and yet for years, perhaps for ever, archives will remain. Stuff on the web is publicly available information, and people like the Internet Archive (and Google’s infamous cache) are filing it all away. Yes, future employers may be able to see those pictures on Flickr of you getting drunk and that rant about authority you posted on your blog. Even I (yes, even I) am a little worried that, if, say, I post a link to chucknorrisfacts.com – sometime in the future someone will be searching for me and, not being aware that Chris in tech told me to post it, might think I’m the sort of joker who spends all day on chucknorrisfacts.com. And I’m not.

My advice? Get up while you can and delete yourself! OK, so I’ve had no success in implementing this noble aim myself – because those sites are just too cool. Maybe that’s the problem – cool vs privacy, fun in the present vs paying for it in the future. God, thinking like that, seems like I’m getting old.

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