One of the biggest problems I have with American politics (and there are many) is that the population at large does not really seem to like it when you change your mind.
But is change not an important part of life? Can you really trust someone who has never really changed their mind? Our current President, for example, was liked by some voters because he was perceived as not really changing his mind. Or, what was that phrase… oh yeah, flip-flopping. But it is easy enough to not change your mind if you don’t have a whole lot going on upstairs to begin with. Ouch!
So what does this have to do with Google or the Internet? Lots. We have crossed a boundary in recent years. Most of what we do online leaves a trail. This trail will very likely become permanent over time. Your posts to mailing lists often become public and stick around for years. If you blog about someone, they could easily stumble across that posting in the future, even if you have removed it from your website. Gmail promises to give you plenty of space for your email on their servers, but makes no guarantee as to when they will delete it.
I fear that this may slowly add up to a culture where people are afraid of the repercussions of expressing their ideas. Over time, if everything you’ve ever said can be searched, it will get harder and harder to change your mind about things. Someone can always dig up something you said ten years ago and hold it against you.
Does this worry you?
Disclaimer: I was once fired from a job primarily because of a scathing review in CitySearch. Mercifully, it appears to be no longer online!