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Delete Cover


The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age the Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age

By Viktor Mayer-Sch'onberger

Princeton University Press, Hardcover, 9780691138619, 256pp.

Publication Date: October 1, 2009


"Delete" looks at the surprising phenomenon of perfect remembering in the digital age, and reveals why we must reintroduce our capacity to forget. Digital technology empowers us as never before, yet it has unforeseen consequences as well. Potentially humiliating content on Facebook is enshrined in cyberspace for future employers to see. Google remembers everything we've searched for and when. The digital realm remembers what is sometimes better forgotten, and this has profound implications for us all.

In "Delete," Viktor Mayer-Schonberger traces the important role that forgetting has played throughout human history, from the ability to make sound decisions unencumbered by the past to the possibility of second chances. The written word made it possible for humans to remember across generations and time, yet now digital technology and global networks are overriding our natural ability to forget--the past is ever present, ready to be called up at the click of a mouse. Mayer-Schonberger examines the technology that's facilitating the end of forgetting--digitization, cheap storage and easy retrieval, global access, and increasingly powerful software--and describes the dangers of everlasting digital memory, whether it's outdated information taken out of context or compromising photos the Web won't let us forget. He explains why information privacy rights and other fixes can't help us, and proposes an ingeniously simple solution--expiration dates on information--that may.

"Delete" is an eye-opening book that will help us remember how to forget in the digital age.

Thursday, Oct 22, 2009

Digital technology has provided a steady aid for people in their quest to remember virtually everything. But author Viktor Mayer-Schonberger argues that now is the time to reintroduce our ability to forget. He talks about his book, Delete, and why forgetting is essential. More at

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