Indexed Legacies

December 21, 2008

In roughly a decade, the children of the generation who grew up with the internet and social media will be coming online. They’ll be creating their own online identities, with greater ease and comfort than their parents’ generation.

This medium will be used to communicate with their peers—but more profoundly, and almost wholly unlike our generation—to relate with their parents. Our generation is amassing our experience on the internet, indexed and cross-referenced, annotated with comments and (sometimes ephemeral) edges in the social graphs we’ve created.

Our children’s generation will not have to suffer the same awkward slideshows of their parents’ youth. The data, our experiences, will be there for the taking, at their leisure, not buried in dusty scrapbooks in attics and basements.

Their generation will be the first with such direct accessibility to the lives of their immediate ancestors. Our children—and their children—will be able to learn and discover their history, the pain and the successes of their forebears. They will know these things not through dim recollection and hyperbole, and not mixed with parable or lessons.

Today, if there is one at all, the litmus test for posting something online is something like “will my future boss see this?” or “is this something I want my mother to see?” At a certain point the question will change to “is this something I’m comfortable with my kids seeing?” The potential of unvarnished personal experience as an implicit gifted advantage to our children is a wonderful thing.