I came across this excellent Ted Talk by Juan Enriquez the other day. Titled, You Online Life, As Permanent As A Tattoo, this talk explores the idea that all of the digital data collected on you, and to which you contribute yourself through social media, is imprinting you with a permanent “digital tattoo.”
Traditional tattoos tell stories about individuals. They are often highly personal and unique. As companies, sites and apps continuously collect information on us (such as our buying habits, our likes, our preferences, and our history), they are imprinting each of us with a form of tattoo. A tattoo that is digital, and immortal. It is always with us.
As technology evolves and facial recognition advances, one could begin to pull up a wealth of information about an individual just by snapping a picture of them or capturing them on video. If you take it one step further, and think of Google Glass, we could have someone’s name and relevant information pop up on our screens when we first meet. (You’d never forget a name ever again!)
The idea of a digital tattoo is similar to that of having a digital reputation, but it goes one step further. It brings together all of the big data collected on each of us. It is the convergence of the collected details of our lives, big and small.
As Juan states, perhaps Andy Warhol got it wrong. Maybe each of us won’t be world famous for fifteen minutes in the future. Perhaps we will only be anonymous for 15 minutes. The rest of our lives are about to get far more public.
Is this something we want? Do we even have the power to stop it, if we wished?