Saying Good Bye to Your Digital Self
April 2011: Friendster announces they would delete their entire database of user photos, posts, and profiles. This was met with an outcry from long-lost members who were not ready to let go of that part of their digital lives. Like Geocities before them, Friendster has a rather contemporary dilemma: what happens when you’re responsible for thousands of digital memories?
With so much of our lives experienced digitally, the stories we tell and the lives we construct online have become increasingly tied to our real life selves. Our 'digital self' has a memory; one made up of wall posts, status updates, photos, and blogs (or more precisely, data). What happens when these online artifacts are deleted or lost? How much worth do we assign to these digital memories, and what does it mean to lose them forever?
This not only affects us as individuals, but also has ramifications for understanding and preserving our current cultural and historical moment. Future generations will only have the digital memories we preserve to learn about us; what will archaeologists say when they find a world without Facebook? With such a disposable way of documenting our lives, have social networks set us up for cultural extinction?
Using Geocities and Friendster as case studies, this panel will explore the issues and possible solutions to the loss of digital memory on both a personal and cultural level.
Alexis is on her second tour of duty at Internet Archive, working on a program to archive the entire Internet and thinking about questions like "what does 'the entire Internet' mean?" and "do we really want it ALL?" Alexis currently manages Internet Archive collections work for every type of media (audio, video, web, texts), and runs the Wayback Machine project. Alexis previously managed the Open Library project from 2006-2008.
Alexis has been working with Internet content since 1996 when she discovered that being picky about words in books was good training for being picky about data on computers. She spent several years managing news content at ClariNet (the first online news aggregator), worked as the Editorial Director at Alexa Internet, and as Product Manager at Mixercast. Alexis has a Masters of Library and Information Science, concentrating on web technologies and interfaces, and enjoys making jewelry, dancing, costuming, and baking Cookie Smackdown-winning cookies.
Brian Fitzpatrick started Google's Chicago engineering office in 2005, and currently leads Google's Transparency Engineering team, which uses data to help protect free expression and free speech on the web. He also founded and leads Google's Data Liberation Front, a team that systematically works to make it easy for users to move their data both to and from Google (e.g. via Google Takeout). He serves as both thought leader and internal advisor for Google's open data efforts and has previously led the Google Code and The Google Affiliate Network teams.
Prior to joining Google, Brian was a senior software engineer on the version control team at CollabNet, working on Subversion, cvs2svn, and CVS. He has also worked at Apple Computer as a senior engineer in their professional services division, developing both client and web applications for Apple's largest corporate customers.
Brian has been an active open source contributor for over thirteen years. After years of writing small open source programs and bugfixes, he became a core Subversion developer in 2000, and then the lead developer of the cvs2svn utility. He was nominated as a member of the Apache Software Foundation in 2002 and spent two years as the ASF's VP of Public Relations. He is also a member of the Open Web Foundation. Brian has written numerous articles and given many presentations on a wide variety of subjects from open data to version control to software development, including co-writing "Version Control with Subversion" (now in its second edition) as well as chapters for "Unix in a Nutshell" and "Linux in a Nutshell."
Brian has an A.B. in Classics from Loyola University Chicago with a major in Latin, a minor in Greek, and a concentration in Fine Arts and Ceramics. Despite growing up in New Orleans and working for Silicon Valley companies for most of his career, he decided years ago that Chicago was his home and stubbornly refuses to move to California.
A lover of all things digital, Dana Herlihey has been working in new media since she was 15 years old, co-pioneering what was Canada’s first online entertainment magazine ‘for teens by teens’. Following an adolescence filled with red carpet interviews, she attended McMaster University, earning a combined honors degree in Multimedia and Cultural Studies. She later spent a year in Geneva, Switzerland working as a Webmaster and digital communications assistant for the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.
As Stitch Media’s Production Coordinator she has managed large interactive teams for projects such as Redress Remix and Showcase’s Drunk and On Drugs: Happy Funtime Hour. She has also led social media campaigns for Stitch Media, recently winning a 2011 Digi Award for Best in Digital Advertising (Drunk and Drugs: Happy Funtime Hour).
I've spoken previously about international toll-free telephone number routing and about the history of public works in Seattle. Now, I speak about how we preserve history when those to whom we entrust it show all signs of having abdicated that responsiblity.