Before my whole life goes online, who’s calling the shots here??!?

28 09 2009

People are social creatures. Sure, there are varying degrees of truth to this but underlying our existence as life forms is our reliance on others for a wide variety of reasons. As babies we rely upon parents or caregivers to supply food, we interact with our peers as we mature, we turn to others for advice on a plethora of topics and most of us appreciate a good laugh or two among friends.

With that in mind, social networks are increasingly becoming hotbeds of activity as we move more of our daily lives online. We seek out answers to questions online; we socialize via Twitter, Facebook and instant messaging programs. Greater reliance upon online resources presents dependability issues. Will the tools we rely upon continually be there? Can we trust the tools we are using to help us or will they hurt us? Furthermore, who is control of these tools we use? A much more significant question is who is calling the shots throughout the Internet? Control is becoming one of those topics people approach with great care, skittishly poking and nervously prodding without an idea of what to expect. Internet control is the metaphorical gorilla in the room, a gargantuan one at that. More superficial examples of this struggle are exemplified today in countries such as China and North Korea where government factions hold reign over public Internet access. Is this a proper course of action? If you ask anyone who has experienced the freedom of open Internet access and the ability to speak their mind, the answer would most likely be a resounding no. Democracy extends its advantages to the online space as well in this regard. However, even democratic societies will have to tackle the issue of Internet control soon because the over exertion of control by single-minded individuals or groups could present tremendous problems by silencing perspectives that free populations appreciate. In turn, a worldwide domino effect can result as different sides vie for the ability to have the last word. That last word could be laying the potential groundwork for the Internet’s future.

Who is really in control?

Who is really in control?

To muddle the topic of Internet control even further, the concept of a lifelog is becoming gradually closer to reality. The term if in reference to a person essentially having every record of their existence placed online, accessible through the Internet. I like to think of this as an electronic Social Security card, passport and birth certificate combined into one while vulnerable to electronic eavesdropping. Call me pessimistic but I see tremendous problems with putting people’s lives online to such an extent that privacy becomes a foreign concept. Granted, I may be presenting my perspective on these topics through the view of someone living in the year 2009. Perhaps, over the next few years, people will realize and believe in a shift towards greater trust in the Internet to such a degree that becoming a “person” online is comforting. I can assure you of one thing though; I want to know who is in control of the Internet before I will be translating my real life into an all-encompassing electronic existence.



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