Posts Tagged ‘Cyberspace’

Another Risk in Cyberspace

December 2, 2012

Victor Mayer Schoenberger noted the common and well publicized concern regarding billions of Facebook messages, the more than 300,000 daily tweets plus private e-mail accounts with their messages, photos, and videos. However the concern usually expressed regards violations of privacy and, perhaps, identity theft. Schoenberger was concerned what it can do to Thanksgiving if the warmth and joy is lost when we keep being reminded of every mistake, every quarrel, every disagreement.1 Schoenberger concern extends far beyond Thanksgiving and has written a book on the topic: Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age.

In the lingo of the Healthymemory Blog, this is a problem with technical transactive memory. Technical transactive memory does not decay or transform, in contrast to human transactive memory that does decay and is modified every time it tried to recall something. People complain about what they forget. Although it is certainly true that we forget information that we want and sometimes need to recall, much forgetting is adaptive. This is especially true to relations with our fellow humans. Hurtful and embarrassing items are forgotten. This forgetting makes it much easier to forgive and forget.

It is very important to remember this when sending something into cyberspace. It could lead to embarrassing and possibly indictable information becoming public. It could reunion friendships and create new enemies. Now who needs more enemies? Unfortunately, technology frequently has the opposite effect. When there is a computer between people and the target of their animosity, sometimes the vitriol is unfortunately increased. This is what happens in flaming.

We should think and behave carefully when sending anything into cyberspace, remembering that it is literally “for keeps.” So to avoid losing friends, gaining enemies, or being indicted, be careful and circumspect about what you send to cyberspace!

1Meyer-Schoenberger, V. (2012). Washington Post, B2, Sunday November 25, B2.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Could We Lose What Is in Cyberspace?

September 30, 2012

The preceding healthymemory blog post addressed the vast amount of information in cyberspace. Could we lose these information? An article in the Economist addressed this question.1

The task appears to be enormous. Consider the vast amounts of data discussed in the preceding post that is constantly changing and growing. Could it end up like the famed Library of Alexandria that was built in the 3rd century BC that is reputed to have every copy of every book in the world at that time? I suspect that this statement betrays a characteristic western bias. If the Library of Alexandria had a counterpart in the far east or books from the far east, please comment. Nevertheless, the Library of Alexandria was a tremendous repository of knowledge that burned to the ground sometime between Julius Caesar’s conquest of Egypt in 48 BC and the Muslim invasion in 640 AD. It is believed by some historians that the loss of the Alexandria library along with the dissolution of its community of scribes and scholars created the conditions for the Dark Ages.

Of course, it is possible that a nuclear holocaust or some astronomical event could cause the loss of cyberspace and a descent into another Dark Age. However, absent such a cataclysm the infrastructure is already in place for the historical recording and saving of cyberspace. The Internet Archive, http://archive.org/ is a free internet library capable of storing a copy of every web page of every website ever on line. The Wayback Machine, http://archive.org/web/web.php, allows users to view the library’s archived web pages as they appeared when published. The Open Library, http://openlibrary.org/, is working to provide a web page for every book in existence. They are offering 1,000,000 free e-book titles for downloading. Project Gutenberg, http://www.gutenberg.org/, offers 40,000 e-books that can be downloaded for free in any of the popular e-reader formats.

Cyberspace also provides a means of leaving memorials that will long outlast us and will possibly be used by historians and a wide range of scholars far into the future. A couple of healthymemory blog posts discussed this new type of memorial, “Transactive Memory and the Dearly Departed,” and “Online Memorials.” I hope to leave memorials like this for both my wife, who is a talented artist, and myself. I hope I’ll be able to justify my having walked the earth, but that is a tall order. I need to get to work!

1(2012). Lost in Cyberspace, The Economist Technical Quarterly, September 1, p.11.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Transactive Memory and the Dearly Departed

February 2, 2010

The Washington Post published an interesting article, “Let Online Lives Outlast the Dearly Departed” (Rosenwald, January 25, 2010; A01, or search for the tag “transactive” on delicious.com). With the advance of technology, more and more of our personal information is stored online. Our logons and passwords are stored throughout cyberspace. Included here are bank accounts, stockbroker accounts, insurance accounts and other accounts of considerable importance. This article addressed the issues that arise when your physical being leaves behind only its virtual reality. In the terminology of this blog this information is residing in transactive memory.

The Post article writes of a coming cybercrisis as many Internet services have policies that forbid accessing or transferring accounts, including recovering money without the password. Court orders are usually required to circumvent this requirement. Of course, this assumes that those you left behind know that there are accounts to access. At one time there was a paper trail that could be traced to find these accounts. But should you go the paperless route, there is no paper to trace. The paper trail has gone online.

Of course the simplest way of dealing with this problem is to leave your loved ones with a paper trail leading to these accounts and their passwords. Such a paper trail is risky, however, should it fall into the wrong hands. Legacy Locker, legacylocker.com, provides a means of securing this information in cyberspace. For a fee you can store all your passwords an log-in information. When you pass-on this information will be accessible to whomever you designate as digital executor. Short of passing on, such a resource can be helpful in dealing with less traumatic problems, such as forgetting a password.

Entrustet is part of LinkedIn and provides a variety of services in this area. As do DataInherit, datainherit.com, Parting Wishes, partingwishes.com, and deathswitch.com. If I Die, ifidie.org, is a free service, that will send out an email written by you with all the information you want to pass on.

In all of these services you are employing transactive memory to store information after your biological memory is no longer available to function.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Shallow and Deep Cyberspace

December 18, 2009

With respect to cognitive growth, it is useful to make a distinction between shallow and deep cyberspace. A synonym for shallow in this context is popular. Facebook.com,Youtube.com, and similar social networking sites along with such popular portals as yahoo.com and cnn.com. This is not intended to denigrate or belittle these sites. The portals do a good job of keeping you up on current events. The social networking sites do provide a means of hooking up with old acquaintances and establishing new relationships. Youtube.com provides a means of readily sharing and finding videos of interest. There is a reason this websites are so popular. They are useful and they are fun. There is every reason to frequent them regularly. Potential problems for cognitive growth arise when they are visited predominately or exclusively.

Cognitive growth requires the visitation of deeper cyberspace where subjects are explored in greater depth. Examples include answers.com and wikipedia.org. Although these sites typically do not go to the greatest detail and depth, they do provide links to further resources that can lead you to become if not an expert, certainly more knowledgeable. Perhaps one of the best sites for leading you into deep or deeper cyberspace is fletchplatt.com. This is a site developed by an amazing 90 plus years retired automotive engineer. It promises 10,000 links in cyberspace. Although I have not attempted to verify this claim, and I very much inclined to believe it. The news and libraries page provides a wide variety of links including links to the New Yorker, the London Times and Public Broadcasting. The Accident and Medical Info Page, includes links to handicapped aids and the National Institute of Health Library. It also includes links on brain plasticity, the Two Sides of the Brain, a link to a Neurosurgeon, Brain Facts, and a very good book on Brain Plasticity by Doidge. The Arts and Sciences Page includes links to both the arts and the sciences. The Special Subjects including Successful Aging, and Brain Games for the Elderly. There is also a link to TED, which offers ideas by great thinkers and Video Lectures on Subjects you select.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.