Thursday, January 22, 2015

Google's permanent memories of me

Fact: The Internet has a memory all its own.
Fact: That memory will present itself to you at the most inopportune times, and in ways that will touch you in unpredictable ways.

A frequent source of this technology-driven coughed-up memory is the auto-suggest feature that Google and other web service providers build into their products. Start typing an email address in the To: field and Gmail will helpfully suggest some folks you've communicated with previously - even if they're no longer with us. Similarly, search for something and Google will spit back, in real-time as you type, an interactive list of choices based on stuff you - and others - have posted, shared or otherwise encountered online in the past.

Which largely explains why Google now defines me in this way. The digital Zeitgeist has spoken, and it has apparently decided that a split second in time on a rural Ontario intersection (see here for all the gory details) will become an indelible part of my ongoing digital signature. I guess until further notice, I am defined by the fact that I tore my carotid artery and subsequently had a stroke. Oh joy.

It's the digital era equivalent of wanting to move on but being unable to because the tools we use to navigate that digital era refuse to let go of the past. Not that I really ever want to let go of it, anyway. It happened to me, and while I can't control the history, I can control the response (stay tuned on that front: Good things happening.)

It's cool technology, but like all cool technologies it often comes with unintended consequences. I guess I could live without the geeky reminder every time I look something up online.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I find all the spying and monetization of personal info creepy.

I've never joined Facebook for that reason.

La Bella Testarossa said...

I used to work for some of the best stroke researchers in the world; please trust me when I say that *anything* that brings awareness to any cause of stroke is a good thing.