Here are different things that struck me this morning that come together in the end.
  • This morning I walked my kids to their bus stop. While waiting for the bus with them, one of the kids there broke out her Apple PowerBook. I'd guess she is in 4th grade. While several of the kids huddled around the laptop, they asked each other things like if they had "real email accounts yet". Then one of them suggested "go check out my site on". Hopefully all that is on this kid's site is ramblings you'd expect from a 10 year old. Roll the clock forward a few years and there may be content that is being created that, as an adult, the child wishes had never been posted.
  • Here in the US we've been inundated with coverage of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Alito. Those for and against his nomination dig up letters and opinions that he's written to support their position - it is largely a paper-based exercise.
  • Google your own name. What comes up? Blog (text, photo or video) postings, podcasts, mail lists & Usenet results turn up anything?
  • How long before a political race or public figure has to deal with online history? It's not an "if", it's a "when".
The issue is of dealing with Internet archiving is not new. I think the new aspect is how so called "Web 2.0" applications have lowered the barriers to entry. The challenge will be how to get children to understand and appreciate that their online activities won't fade away with time. As my children expand their Internet usage, I know I will be teaching them that just like the dinosuar footprints in the story, what they do online is there forever. So, they should think about what kind of person people will think they are by studying their digital footprints when someone "discovers" them in the future.