Monday, June 12, 2006

The World According to Battelle

Making his regular appearance in the New York Times' technology section, Mr. Battelle fondly remembers his years as an online pioneer ... back when he was an old-school hacker.

It was a simpler, more innocent time:

"[W]e assumed the digital footprints we left behind - our clickstream exhaust, so to speak - were as ephemeral as a phone call, fleeting, passing, unrecorded."

This gem apparently comes from a weblog post he wrote "a couple of years ago," according to the NYT.

The writer of the article, Tom Zeller Jr., should be credited for using simple language to describe the growing problem of employers, lawyers and the government tracking your online activities.

It is left to Mr. Battelle to expound on his old blog post with new poetic comments delivered to the New York Times via electronic mail:

"We are living online, but have yet to fully realize the implications of doing so," Battelle wrote, according to Zeller. "One of those implications is that our tracks through the digital sand are eternal."

Ah, eternity!

He doesn't have any idea what he's talking about, again. (His prose is stinky as usual.) What online pioneers knew all too well - and they've said this often, as I've interviewed dozens of the clever geeks - was that the authorities and telecoms were always watching.

Hacker horror stories were common in the media many years before regular Americans were signing up with AOL in the mid-1990s. It was this very fear of someone watching that kept the first consumer Web users paranoid about credit-card theft or (in the Waco days) Clintonian surveillance of any message-board commenter with a vaguely anti-governmnet view.

One could say with some authority that it wasn't until this century - the past few years - that online activity became comfortable for the general public. Not that there's any reason for people to be comfortable online today; it's simply that "everybody's doing it."


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home