Delete

The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age

By Viktor Mayer-Schonberger
(Princeton University Press, Paperback, 9780691150369, 249pp.)

Publication Date: July 2011

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Description

"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access, and increasingly powerful software--and describes the dangers of everlasting digital memory, whether it's outdated information taken out of context or compromising photos the Web won't let us forget.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.




About the Author
VIKTOR MAYER-SCHONBERGER is Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at the Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University.The co-author of Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We, Live, Work, and Think, he has published over a hundred articles and eight other books, including "Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age". He is on the advisory boards of corporations and organizations around the world, including Microsoft and the World Economic Forum.
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