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Thursday, February 26, 2015  |   Madison, WI: 10.0° F  
CITIZEN DAVE: Thoughts and ideas about city building from Madison's former mayor
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Citizen Dave: Facebook Timeline archives might end gossip

Last week, Facebook formally unveiled a new feature called "Timeline" in which you (and anyone else with access to your page) can see everything that's been posted by or about you since you first became a user of the network.

There's angst about this. A lot of it comes from parents and other responsible people who fear that the goofy pictures of yourself at a bar in college will doom your chances to be President of the United States.

I think they worry too much. Instead, what I think is likely to happen is that the technology will change the paradigm. Because, at some point everyone will have some skeletons in their digital closet -- including the people on your dissertation committee and the managing partner at your law firm -- and so it just won't be that big a deal.

And this, I hope, will actually make society better. Because so much of our lives will be an open book, gossip and innuendo will be undercut in value. Like any other commodity, they'll be worth less when there's more of it. In fact, in the future, it's possible that it's people whose lives aren't an open book that will garner the most suspicion, which would, in many ways, be a shame.

But the prediction in Orwell's 1984 was that Big Brother would know everything about you. What couldn't be predicted in 1948 (the year 1984 was written) was that everybody would know everything about you. And the beauty of that is that there's so much to know about everybody that even Big Brother might not care.

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