Looking back on Second Life and this module, I’m still a little unsure what I have gained educationally. Personally through the power of the internet I have began to think that if my searches are indicating who I am online, who must I be in real life? Maybe this is the educational value of the Virtual Environments Module. Either way, I have had smiles and laughs through this system of learning and it has been an enjoyable experience.
I have written a collection of thoughts based on the topical question of, Who’s watching Me? This will be my final farewell to the Virtual Environments Second Life Module.
The Internet, this all encompassing entity that is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. 50 years ago reciting this line one would have thought you were talking about God. It’s funny that for a many number of people the internet is a Godly being, that is to say without internet some people really have become like the ‘lost flock’ in regards to true calling. Now without drawing on parallels between Religion and technology it is sufficed to say that there is a direct coralation between the rise in technology and the decrease in religious faith due to the readily available dissemination of imformation.
Now as my collegues have shone a light on their digital footprint as will I. Walking along in the steps from little to large, my particular digital footprint is much like my shoe size at age ten. Larger than the actual years I have been on the Earth.
It must have been the early to mid 90’s when a computer first showed up in my house. Random green text info and floppy disks and as every kid I knew back then it was something that didn’t really play to heavily on my mind, that was of course until it rained.
My earliest memories where sitting down and inserting a 3 1/2 floppy disk that said games. Boom, I was hooked.
And a plethora of information flew down the screen, I felt like a genius kid at the controls of the Trimaxion Drone Ship (Flight of the Navigator ref).
Moving on, Nintendo appeared. Windows launched Encarta 95 and the Netscape browser went live. Chat rooms were accessible and my words per minute count skyrocketed.
You could sit in your front room and have conversations on a one to one level with somebody on the other side of the world. It was great, heading into school and swapping stories with your mates about pictures of US skate parks you’d seen the previous night “online”!
As the processing power grew so did its consumption and all of us should have no quams about productive and destructive power of the internet, we have more than likely experienced good and bad virtual scenarios and maybe some further in the real world.
When the internet started there were no limitations to intellectual exploration, something that is not true today.
Now my digital footprint is large as I have been active online for quite some time, for my collegues this has provided ample research material to laugh and joke about. I hold my hands up and say, “you got me”. Or did you?
It is true that socially I am as active online as in my real world environment, but the difference is this. My online persona actually says very little about me personally. What I have fed out into my mainstream online feeds are a mere glimpse into what I want you to see. Talking points if you will to entice real world conversations, things that people want to say to judge your reaction without realizing that you are the one who has disseminated the information to engage them.
This is my real world linkability, which is important. To me yes, maybe not so much to you unless you are in my real world but the word, Linkability.
I want to talk about this word, Linkability, only because for me it is the great issue I have between my real life and online life. Linkability in this context is exactly how it sounds. Bankcard to Leap card means you can get the bus. Bankcard to Cinema tickets means you might be getting lucky.
We take it for granted but what happens when data and data systems start developing concepts of analysis that could be coded and rolled out and that code could be executed electronically. Simply put, everything you do online has formed a virtual second you that is nothing like the real you and is now being targeted.
This might seem a little Science Fiction esque but the truth of the matter is that this has already started. Your metadata is being pieced together like a jigsaw to form metadata relationships, this metadata, in aggregate is content. It’s the story of you. A story that is made up of facts but has no narrative. So what happens when probability is introduced to that narrative.
Here’s an example, lets indulge the theory that you are using your epay cards such as, debit and bus… You leave for a night out,
- Get the bus (check).
- Buy smokes in a shop (check).
- Go to the pub (check).
- Go to another (check).
- Hit a club (check).
- Witness a crime!
- Get a taxi home (check).
All of the above data points have put you in the vicinity of a crime and in 979 cases in Britian in 2012, individuals with stories such as the above woke up to be in the spotlight of accusations of criminal charges.
So the question starts to become not who is watching me, but Am I watching myself! Am I being careful? Am I being responsible as to what my electronic bread crumb trail is leaving behind? The answer we will probably never know as our digital footprint grows larger each day.
“For now, know that every boarder you cross,
every purchase you make,
every call you dial,
every cell phone tower you pass,
friend you keep,
articule you write,
site you visit,
subject line you type,
and packet you route,
is in the hands of a system whose reach is unlimited, but whose safeguards are not.”
Ciao for the last time…