Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age

Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger / Sep 19, 2019

Delete The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age Delete looks at the surprising phenomenon of perfect remembering in the digital age and reveals why we must reintroduce our capacity to forget Digital technology empowers us as never before yet it h

  • Title: Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age
  • Author: Viktor Mayer-Schönberger
  • ISBN: 9780691138619
  • Page: 292
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Delete looks at the surprising phenomenon of perfect remembering in the digital age, and reveals why we must reintroduce our capacity to forget Digital technology empowers us as never before, yet it has unforeseen consequences as well Potentially humiliating content on Facebook is enshrined in cyberspace for future employers to see Google remembers everything we ve se Delete looks at the surprising phenomenon of perfect remembering in the digital age, and reveals why we must reintroduce our capacity to forget Digital technology empowers us as never before, yet it has unforeseen consequences as well Potentially humiliating content on Facebook is enshrined in cyberspace for future employers to see Google remembers everything we ve searched for and when The digital realm remembers what is sometimes better forgotten, and this has profound implications for us all In Delete, Viktor Mayer Schonberger traces the important role that forgetting has played throughout human history, from the ability to make sound decisions unencumbered by the past to the possibility of second chances The written word made it possible for humans to remember across generations and time, yet now digital technology and global networks are overriding our natural ability to forget the past is ever present, ready to be called up at the click of a mouse Mayer Schonberger examines the technology that s facilitating the end of forgetting digitization, cheap storage and easy retrieval, global access, and increasingly powerful software and describes the dangers of everlasting digital memory, whether it s outdated information taken out of context or compromising photos the Web won t let us forget He explains why information privacy rights and other fixes can t help us, and proposes an ingeniously simple solution expiration dates on information that may Delete is an eye opening book that will help us remember how to forget in the digital age.

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      Posted by:Viktor Mayer-Schönberger
      Published :2018-010-01T05:26:18+00:00

    About "Viktor Mayer-Schönberger"

      • Viktor Mayer-Schönberger

        VIKTOR MAYER SCH NBERGER is Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at the Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University A widely recognized authority on big data, he is the author of over a hundred articles and eight books, of which the most recent is Delete The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age He is on the advisory boards of corporations and organizations around the world, including Microsoft and the World Economic Forum.


    1. In 1914, my grampa was born in a shotgun tenement apartment adjacent to an alley in the Polish-Russian ghetto of Chicago. They didn't run the coal furnace at night. To keep the lead pipes from freezing, he remembers a splinter of lumber in the kitchen sink, balanced from the drain to the tip of the faucet, letting the water drizzle all night. He tells the story of a February morning his mom called him and his sister out of bed. The mattress they shared was made of straw and ticking. They threw o [...]

    2. Good overview of memory x privacy issues, current solutions, and their strengths/weaknesses. Slip to the table on p. 168 to preview the latter. Proposes expiration dates for information as a way to reintroduce forgetting without necessarily addressing power imbalances or other privacy challenges. An interesting idea whose preservation implications are underdeveloped (at least in this book - haven't looked into anyone responding to this work). Speaking as an archivist, forgetting is 100% in line [...]

    3. Ce livre, bien qu'il soit extrêmement intéressant et soulève des questions qui m'interpellent fortement, a eu un terrible effet soporifique sur ma personne

    4. The worst of its kind. -_-I picked it up because the title attracted me. I like the term "DELETE" so much . But yeah "Looks are DECEPTIVE."Okay what I expected from the book reading its title, it totally failed to give me that. :/It was more like a history or sociology book [ the evolution of press , disk drives blah blah -_- ]A boring one to waste my time on it :3 বাংলাতে রচনামূলক প্রশ্নের উত্তর লিখার মতন একটা ব [...]

    5. This book puts forward an interesting and important idea - that information that we own and share on the web has to have an "expiry date" and that each individual should have control over his/her information. Unfortunately this idea is overelaborated to fill 200 pages when perhaps 10 would suffice.

    6. The content is excellent, interesting, and well researched. He brings up some interesting points about how the default of human memory has gone from forgetting (with occasional remembering, or imperfect remembering) to full on remember everything all the time using external memory (computers and the internet, basically). That brings up some issues, such as not being able to take into account time context (we can find information about a person from 20 years ago that is no longer relevant to who [...]

    7. Through the developing of technology, digital collective memory can be stored timelessly, possibly used to replace the individual memory for bureaucratic profits, which is another form of information asymmetry.

    8. Before digital age, remembering was MORE expensive than forgetting. Not anymore. This book diligently probes the, often counterintuitive, ramifications of that. Insightful and incisive

    9. This book is not going to be to everyone's liking because it divides into two distinct section. In the beginning, the book deals with large, abstract ideas about human history and memory. The author argues that in the analog world, forgetting was the norm and remembering was hard because it was difficult to store information in an easily accessible and permanent form. The author's discussion here is fascinating, as he points out how analog information slowly decays as it is copied (think of the [...]

    10. Interesting, if occasionally long winded, read for those interested in the origins of the right to be forgotten.

    11. I like the idea of this book, but I didn't like reading it. His argument is that by keeping everything that we've done online that we risk two things: first, that adolescent foibles and drunken late nights will be held against us potentially forever, and second that to forget makes us in some way more human and we have to retain that. To be honest I skimmed almost everything regarding the second argument and so may be stating it poorly.While it is in fact the case that it's easier to find out pe [...]

    12. Do we know what we're doing to our future selves by saving a permanent record of our digital memories, conversations and information to hard drives and the internet? Is it even our own choice to do so anymore? The author brings up some provocative ideas- about the digital age bringing a significant change to how we use 'external storage devices' (books being an older form) to extend our own faulty animal capacities to remember. One scenario describes us forming our own surveillance network, not [...]

    13. Possibly an unfair rating as this wasn't a topic I normally would be interested in. Nice ideas but seemed a bit idealistic. The reason I read it, however, makes me comfortable giving it two starsI just can't envision my students enjoying it.

    14. Humans forget. That’s the norm. For thousands of prehistoric centuries that’s all there was to it because nothing was written down. Then came writing, and history, and for about forty historic centuries humans developed “external memory”: mechanisms such as books that enabled us to remember across generations (and to communicate at great distance). Still, forgetting remained the norm because most ideas weren’t recorded.But in this century, with the rise of the Web, more and more of our [...]

    15. Great book, would have given it 5 stars, but I found the last third a bit boring. Other than that, I would definitely recommend it!In our computer age, there is no forgetting. Google, for one, stores and saves our searches, caches pages, so nothing is forgotten! Is this a good thing? Not when you are passed over for the job you just applied for because of a questionable photo you posted online years ago! It does work when you are seeking information, as we now no longer have to memorize everythi [...]

    16. I saw a reference to this recently, and it reminded me that I must say something about it. In Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger discusses the fact that, for the first time in history, the balance between remembering and forgetting has been altered. Our default state is to forget stuff, but now we, through our technology, can remember everything.As he says, A society that never forgets, may stop forgiving. That unfortunate photo of yourself, or that ar [...]

    17. Il libro discute con grande capacità l’evoluzione della memoria nella società umana, dall’uomo primitivo ad oggi. Il percorso è funzionale ad arrivare ai giorni nostri e ad interrogarci su quali conseguenze sia possibile immaginare in un mondo che, grazie ad Internet in particolare, non dimentica più. Il problema diventa opposto, ovvero avere una quantità di informazioni tali da non poterle più usare per decidere cosa fare, soprattutto nei momenti più importanti della nostra vita.Dal [...]

    18. A very easy-to-read book on how technology has flipped our culture from one of remembering only important things to remembering everything. The examples aren't very academic and, therefore, easily accessible to most readers. A nice introduction to the concept, but I found some of the suggestions too simplistic. The first part of the book outlining the way our culture has adapted to our bad memories was more interesting than the end chapters on how we can reintroduce forgetting into our technolog [...]

    19. This book is basically about privacy and the internet. The main thesis is, that due to the exponentially lower costs of digital storage, everything now posted online is archived and retrievable. The good and the bad can instantly be found by potential employers, lovers and the law. The author presents how we got to where we are and ideas for dealing with this, possibly life-altering technological dilemma. Ultimately, Mayer-Schonberger proposes that we place an expiration date on online informati [...]

    20. Overall, Mayer-Schönberger does make a good case for reviving forgetting and offers a number of solutions to make digital memory less robust. However, to the structure his analysis, he relies on the 1980s terms such as "the information rich" and " the information poor" that obscure material unequities behind networked power.I also find the author's repeated references to Soviet Union baffling, as if ideological manipulation did not happen in the West during the Cold War. The book is about digit [...]

    21. The high point, alas, is the title. Well, okay, also the concept -- that now it takes more effort to "forget" than to remember, that our relationship to the two has flipped. (I just spent a month sorting and deleting 18,000 emails; I totally get this). But this is way too text booky; I started feeling sorry for students assigned to read this and want to tell them to skip to the last paragraphs of each chapter and/or skip it all and find better stories than those of the two hapless souls on which [...]

    22. Important book - Chapter 4, Of Power and Time, particularly good. You do have to wade through some pretty dry stuff in places but the topic is worth it and he provides a framework for thinking about digital privacy and the need to deal with our digital records in a way that supports our humanity and helps makes sense of what is now happening in the legal system in Europe particularly with the search engines.

    23. It's an interesting read, and an interesting argument about how we're now remembering by default as opposed to forgetting by default. I appreciated the distinction between time and power dimensions of digital forgetting. I did get caught up a few times by the odd love of the information free market ("we just have to empower consumers to make good decisions!") even though it was mediated by caveats about asymmetric power relationships.

    24. excellent. in particular, i loved chapter four, 'of power and time', on the consequences of the demise of forgetting. the first two chapters were also excellent. i definitely agree that excessive remembering inhibits our ability to change and limits the extent to which we can define ourselves. i, personally, think too much is remembered and welcome his solution to set expiration dates on digital files.

    25. The author's core argument that the Digital Age has changed the way we store external memory so that it never disapears and affects the way we make decisions is smart. Also the solution to it: affixing expiration dates to data is good. But the book could have been half as long - and it wasn't very long to begin with. I understand this was originally a thesis or paper - that was probably more precise. Or just listen to the NPR segment.

    26. It starts off with an array of amazing information. What I'm having trouble with is the solution given to the problem of digital remembering. Not enough of it. It really hard to explain, but basically I was left convinced that change is necessary, but was also left without a proper answer and a bleak view of the future. Could be more insightful or hands-on.Some of the examples repeated way too many times.Enviable references.

    27. Pesquisa interessante, levanta um questionamento importante sobre o papel do esquecimento na nossa vida hoje. Infelizmente por vezes cai num tom meio apocalíptico, mas levanta uma boa base para compreender as mudanças atuais, onde aparecem apps como snapchat/, que provoca o esquecimento das imagens produzidas automaticamente.

    28. Rarely you would come across a full-length book with so little to say. The author's point -there is just one point and that's not more elaborate than what's already on the title- never evolves into something more compelling and thought-provoking. About half way into the book I decided that I "got it" and donated the book.

    29. Society has taken for granted the act of forgetting. As time went by, technology made us less and less able to forget, and this change, as the author demonstrates, will have a profound effect on society. No definitive answers will be found in this book but I found it interesting to spark the debate. Is (or should) forgetting be a right in our society? And how can we operationalize this?

    30. One of my favorite books this year. Forgetting used to be the norm; remembering the exception. But four technological changes have flipped that reality for us: digitization, cheap storage, easy retrieval, and global reach. But instead of trying to remember everything, we're better off by forgetting some things. Love how this book shows us which things are worth forgetting.

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