MyNotes – The New Digital Age – Chapter 2: The Future of Identity, Citizenship and Reporting


About This Series
 – Earlier this week, a copy of Dr. Eric Shmidt’s and Jared Cohen’s book, 
The New Digital Age: Transforming nations, businesses and our lives arrived on my desk. You can read my notes on this book.


In this blog entry, I explore the current chapter, then share my reflections.

Table of Contents


Over the next few days, I’ll be reading the book and sharing my notes on what jumps out at me and my quick reflections.

MyNotes: Chapter 2 – The Future of Identity, Citizenship and Reporting

  1. The impact of the data revolution–where massive amounts of data about individuals that is captured via the connections they make online–will strip citizens of much of their control over their personal information in virtual space, and that will have significant consequences in the physical world.
  2. The challenge we face as individuals is determining what steps we are willing to take to regain control over our privacy and security.
  3. In the future, our identities in everyday life will come to be defined more and more by our virtual activities and associations…our ability to influence and control how we are perceived by others will decrease dramatically.
  4. The technology industry is already hard at work to find creative ways to mitigate risks, such as through two-factor authentication…strong encryption will be nearly universally adopted as a better but not perfect solution.
    Response: Actually, two factor authentication is a pain but requires you have a mobile device with you at all times. Nothing so annoying as working at home and having to have my mobile phone–which is usually on a charger downstairs–just so I can access my online data. In regards to encryption, who’s going hold the keys to decrypt the data? I don’t trust Google, or any cloud provider for that matter, to hold the key. If something needs to be protected, then I have to do it. We’re talking, not about top secret defense documents a la NSA, but rather family medical, financial records and personally identifiable information.
  5. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.
    Response: If you don’t want to connect and be known, then you have to unplug. Yuck. This is untenable if you want to work in today’s society. Or, you simply use your employer’s accounts with the understanding your work is public and do your best to keep your “personal” data to yourself. This won’t work over the long run, though. Sooner or later, you’ll be thrown into the pool, doused in, for a lack of a better term, “unprivacy.”
  6. Governments will find it more difficult to maneuver as their citizens become more connected. Destroying documents, kidnapping, demolishing monuments–restrict and repressive actions like these will lose much of their functional and symbolic power in the new digital age.
  7. For children and adolescents, the incentives to share will always outweigh the vague, distant risks of self-exposure, even with salient examples of the consequences in public view.
  8. By the time a man is in his forties (hey, that’s me!), he will have accumulated and stored a comprehensive online narrative, all facts and fictions, every misstep and every triumph, spanning every phase of his life.
  9. “Virtual honor killing” – which is online character assassination.
  10. Most parents will realize that the most valuable way to help their child is to have the privacy-and-security talk even before the sex talk.
    Response: I actually did do this with my two children.
  11. A whole fascinating section on Wikileaks, reporting whistleblower leaks, etc. 
  12. Mainstream media outlets increasingly find themselves a step behind in reporting…these organization simply cannot move quickly enough in a connected age.
  13. One new subcategory to emerge will be a network of local technical encryption specialists, who deal exclusively in encryption keys…their value for journalist would not be content or source related but instead would provide the necessary confidentiality mechanism between parties.
    Response: Fascinating prediction. Security brokers.
  14. Disaggregated, mutually anonymous news-gathering system will be possible…
  15. Cloud computing only reinforces the permanence of information, adding another layer of remote protection for users and their information.
  16. In an open democracy, where free expression and responsive governance feed the public’s impulse to share, citizens will increasingly serve as judge and jury of their peers.
    Response: We already see this now with teachers and others. Post something dumb on twitter and you’re fired before you arrive at your destination (I forget who that happened to).
  17. Virtual juvenile records…this is fascinating. Anything you share before a certain age may become unusable, sealed and not for public disclosure.
  18. “In a world with no delete button, peer-to-peer (P2P) networking will become the default mode of operation for anyone looking to operate under or off the radar.”
This chapter had a lot more info and predictions…to be honest, it can be frightening to consider all the possible changes and the authors did a nice job of extrapolating from existing case studies of how identity, citizenship, the State/government fits in. I’m thoroughly frightened at the ideas of trying to navigate all of this. But then, who wouldn’t be unless you have tons of cash?
I’m honestly reminded of Daniel Suarez’ fictional stories of the future, Daemon and Freedom. If you haven’t read these, you need to simply to better understand what the authors of The New Digital Age are suggesting may be possible. Suarez does a nice job of fictionalizing the new realities…and scaring the heck out of his readers!


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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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