Monday, 27 April 2009

I left facebook

I feel really crap at the moment, as I battle a cold. I have taken ill, hangovers dont feel like they used to, and I am battle to rid myself of that disgusting cigarette.

Thing is, I had a friends' gathering in my back yard yesterday. While I was battling with that hamburger on the grill, an old friend of mine threw the word that she saw my "Leaving facebook" message. My other friend who battled for years to stay away from facebook and finally had to join because of her phd study group, said that she laughed when she saw my message. I had to be philosophical about everything as usual.

Maybe I am.

But, I left facebook for many reasons. As everything, there is one main reason I left, but I am also convinced by many other reasons why facebook is not for me.

First, I just like to say that social networking is a tool to be reckoned with, and I am not against it. I remain (for now) on LinkedIn. With this out of the way, the reasons for quiting fall into two categories, the first being purely socio-technical, while the second is really personal.

As I was a taught at the Information Systems and Innovation group at the LSE, that information systems are social systems, and I realized that :

1) Digital footprint: The growth of information we generate both voluntarily and involuntarily is exponential in growth, and our attempt in controling that growth through settings and privacy control, can only be linear, because most of the time, we are unaware of our own "data generating activities" if you want to call it that. i.e. do you really can guarrantee that you won't update your status when you are drunk, or upload a photo of you in a leather jacket on a bike when your adrenaline pumped or think it will impress a girl. Really, we do some stupid things sometimes and say stupid things that we often regret, but these are often "gone with the wind", but when facebook takes on a life of it's own, these stupid things come with it, which brings me to my next point

2) Data Mirroring: if you upload a photo on the internet, you have to realize that it's going to be there for a while....and I mean decades, not years. Not only that, is that once you upload it, you can't really fully delete it. With the growth of the internet, and its integration in business, as well as government laws, forced data to be backed up and mirrored to different servers, often in different location. For example: If you upload a photo to facebook server1, it will be backed up to facebook server2, which in turn is backed up to an external vendor, storage provider or data centre. That means A is connected to B which is connected to C. Now, if for some reason, A looses its connection to B, A can no longer access what is on C. Hence some data is sitting on C, but if you delete that picture from A, doesn't necessarily mean it will be delted from C, coz it can really get quite tangled, with backups to backups to backups. Loose a connection somewhere along the way, and that data is lost forever, but not deleted! So, If I delete my pictures from FB, that doesnt necessarily mean when I am 50, I may find in a google hit a picture of me on a motor bike in a leather jacket, I took 20 years ago.... So I figured that kind of digital footprint, isn't really needed.

There is a fine line between a digital footprint, and plastering ur private life all over the web. I am sure you know how data is mirrored over and over again , and well, one has to think twice before uploading a picture on the web, because well, it's going to be there for a really long time, and even still that the initial source of data may loose its connection to its mirror, there is no way you can control the data once its on the web. Controling a facebook account privacy is futile, and its better to leave now before it's too late.

I perfectly agree that a virtual existance is bullshit, and we are NOT what we put on the internet. Like the people who spend hours picking out their best picture to choose as a profile picture, this is not really them! So on and so forth for pictures, notes, posts, quotes, etc.... its all what we think we are, and we only usually focus on the good things and never the bad things, thats just human nature.

So, and this is cliche, but resistance is futile. The only difference between, lets say the government, taking ur information (reading ur emails, chats etc) without your consent, and making it let loose on the web in things like facebook, for anyone to have, is well, we only hope that there will be laws to protect us from the former, but the latter, well.... like Einstein said "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

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