I met someone at a New Years Eve party last night. R is a successful businesswoman who, because of her job, does not want prospective clients to search the web in advance of meeting with her. It’s not that she has cobwebs to be found, but she would rather meet with a client like a first date, unencumbered by any knowledge someone dug up on her online. I nodded and told her I have other friends who are equally nonexistent online and prefer it to stay that way.
When I mentioned my fear that the time will come — whether five or 20 years in the future — when the only way to “not be online” is to live in a bubble, because everything from refrigerators to plants will be digitally connected with our humanity, R replied she’d rather live in that bubble with other kibbutzim choosing the same life.
It is noble to want to be at home without anyone knowing you are there. I want my privacy as much as you. But when ATMs and some traffic lights have cameras installed therein to enforce the law and secure our borders, is it possible to live in a civilized locale anymore without someone knowing where you are?
Let’s explore these thoughts in the coming weeks and months. Welcome to 2010.
HAL-9000: What is going to happen?
Dave: Something wonderful.
HAL-9000: I’m afraid.
Dave: Don’t be. We’ll be together.
HAL-9000: Where will we be?
Dave: Where I am now.
— from 2010 by Arthur C. Clarke
Image: Oliver Widder