Tiptoe Through Your Digital Tulips

In a digitally-connected world, our past may no longer be "ours". With sites like the WayBackMachine and Google’s great caching engine, our own words and the words of others ABOUT us will live long into the future. Add to this the "handles", user IDs, profiles and so on that we create in the various courses of our lives — from Facebook to Twitter, Flickr and even dating sites — and we can amass a digital footprint that extends well past the bounds of public/private and into the deeply personal.

But how might this play out for a baby? Or for, say, my nephew who is 10 years old? What is out there and how will all this data affect the relationships that he has in the future? What about his first job? His first date? Or his twentieth? What about the photos taken by his family and friends? Who sees what and who "owns" what is shown?

This video produced by Kanupriya Tewari for the Berkman Centre for Internet and Society’s Digital Natives Project shows how all this may play out for a newborn (hat tip to Katie Chatfield). But watch the video, then read this account of a first date gone wrong.

There are lessons here for brands as well. Clearly, with 78% of consumers trusting the purchase advice of friends or even networked acquaintances over advertising, it pays to at least monitor the conversations that are ALREADY taking place about your products/services. And while, yes, consumers have always spoken about and discussed the brands that they love and hate, in this Age of Conversation, these sentiments are captured, stored and immediately available well into the future.

Social media may look like a tulip field, but it is, in fact, a whole new way of playing and participating. Tiptoe with care!

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