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Ask Slashdot: How Long Will the Internet Remember Us? 126

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-forgot-about-you-six-years-ago dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The common trope these days is that the internet never forgets. We tech-inclined folk warn our friends and relatives that anything embarrassing they put on the internet will stay there whether they want it to or not. But at the same time, we're told about massive amounts of data being lost as storage services go out of business or as the media it's stored on degrades and fails. There are organizations like the Internet Archive putting a huge amount of effort into saving everything that can be saved, and they're not getting all of it. My question is this: how long can we reasonably expect the internet to remember us? Assume, of course, that we're not doing anything particularly famous or notable — just normal people leading normal lives. Will our great-grandkids be able to trace our online presence? Will all your publicly-posted photos be viewable in 50 years, or just the one of you tripping over a sheep and falling into the mud?"
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Ask Slashdot: How Long Will the Internet Remember Us?

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  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @08:27PM (#45779281) Homepage

    The Internet will remember you as long as the services that have information about you exist. The services... they'll remember you as long as their owners can make money off them one way or another. As soon as they can't make money (even if it's just milking venture capitalists for another round of financing), they'll shut the servers down and wipe the databases. A couple months after that, the search engine caches will have lost track of the pages and that'll be that. All that'll be left is what individuals have saved somewhere else, and that's disorganized enough that it probably won't turn up anywhere.

    The issue for most people isn't whether the Internet remembers you, or for how long. It's that how long it remembers you is completely and utterly out of your control.

  • Who cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by neiras (723124) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @08:30PM (#45779303)

    We're all dead anyway. None of my old files are particularly accessible, from code written as a teenager and saved to worn-out floppy disks to CDs formatted for dead operating systems. Most of my photos are rotting on hard drives and I never really bother to look at them.

    I don't want to be remembered by "the Internet". I want to be remembered by my kids and grandkids, and maybe some future programmer who might run across some old code I wrote and go "whoa, nice."

    The internet can suck a bag of dicks and charge 5.99 a month to watch.

  • Re:Roy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @08:59PM (#45779503) Homepage Journal

    Slashdot comment of the year.

  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @09:25PM (#45779621) Journal

    Since before Internet was Internet I have been online, but unlike many others, I rather have my real identity to remain inconspicuous.

    Why should I let Internet to "remember" me ?

    I mean, what for ?

  • forgetting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @09:44PM (#45779703) Homepage Journal

    More importantly: Do we want to?

    Forgetting is a benefit. We all have things in our lives we do not want to remember, or want to remember differently than they truly were. That perfect holiday you had, the love of your life, how you met your wife, etc.

    In many relationships and friendships, selective memory is what keeps them together. Remembering the good times and forgetting the troubles.

  • Re:long enough (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @10:43PM (#45779981) Homepage Journal

    This internet thing is recent and the 'content lasts forever' is a problem of the present generation.

    Which is why in another generation or two, it won't be a problem. When everyone's embarrassing adventures in their teens and early twenties are sitting out there in easily accessed archives, the social attitudes toward such things will be very different. Facebook and Twitter posts from 2013 will be no big deal in 2033 (and yes, I'd be willing to bet they'll still be out there and easy to find).

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.