Saturday, July 31, 2010

The End of Forgetting

This past Sunday, The New York Times Sunday magazine featured an article about the end of forgetting.  In it, Jeffrey Rosen presents a rather scary proposition - one that ought to be intuitive to anyone with any familiarity of online culture: every move you make can be kept online for posterity and come back to haunt you in ways you never imagined. 

Take for example, Stacy Snyder, whom Rosen references.  She had what was deemed as "inappropriate" photos of herself and, as a result, was denied a teaching job.  Why should what she does during non-work time at all affect her professional qualifications?

I can't go into the depth of argument Rosen did - I don't think I'd have anything to add - but I do want to comment on this from a perspective of reputation management.  As anyone who has been at the wrong end of a reputation crisis can attest: one "oh crap" is far more powerful than 10 "attaboys." 

Today, individuals who engage in public displays of everything personal must take upon themselves the same rules of engagement as companies and other organizations interested in reputation management.  To a large extent, what is right and wrong is irrelevant.  We can only deal with what is.

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