TECHNOLOGY MAKES INFORMATION ON WEB SITES AVAILABLE FOREVER
May 27, 2012
Was George Orwell correct in 1949, when he wrote the book, 1984--Big Brother is Watching You? Did you believe it then? And now?
My first experience with really studying the book in detail came in a college psychology class. The book was intriguing. Was it going to be possible that the government would be able to watch our every action in the future? After working for Collins Radio Company and being privy to some of the communications projects, I never doubted this possibility.
The thought of being watched by the government is remembered repeatedly when I go on the social media sites. Users put very personal information on these that seems to be available to anyone surfing their site from vacation times and locations, medical information, and their general routine. I found one that seemed to be a personal diary!
Do I care if the government is looking at my sites? No. When I asked a police officer friend what all the antennas were on patrol cars, he jokingly told me he parked his cruiser down the street from my house and read everything I put on the Internet, read every email I sent and listened to my phone calls. I briefly recalled what I have on my computer, my emails, internet sites and phone conversations and replied that he really must be bored! I restrict public information to family history. If the government is watching and listening and they find any ties to my family lines, I would be happy to have them notify me of any relevance.
Anything placed on an Internet site will be viewable forever thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, http://archive.org/web/web.php. I had a family research project on Geocities that folded few years ago. The site is gone but the information I had on it is still retrievable if one does a search on the Wayback Machine.
The Wayback Machine is a non-profit digital time capsule. The site explains, “… the name was chosen in homage to the Library of Alexandria, drawing a parallel between the largest repository of knowledge in the ancient world and the potential of the Internet to become a similar store of knowledge. It is a complete snapshot of all web pages on every website since 1996.”
There is a bill before congress relating to wiretapping that if passed would allow the government to monitor many of the social media sites, Skype and intercept certain emails, with a warrant. If this passes, then Mr. Orwell’s prediction may be coming true. Big Brother may soon be watching some of us if they are not already watching and listening.
Consider what personal information you put online for the public to access. I do not put my complete bloodlines on the Internet closer than my great-grandparents. I respect parental information and that of my descendants. It does not bother me for the government to see my information, but I do not want personal data in the hands of those with illegal intent.
REUNION 10 GENEALOGY DATABASE FOR THE MAC: Reunion 10 from the Leister Publications is now ready to download for those of you using Macintosh computers. There is a video of the features for this new release at www.leisterpro.com/index.php. The drop/drag features, pictures and other bells and whistles are certainly intriguing. The Reunion iPhone app is available through the App Store for those with Reunion 9 already installed on your computer.
TECHNOLOGY SAVED MY BACK: Last week’s column brought several comments—all positive except for one about my reference to Find A Grave. This reader complained the graver for her family’s cemetery in Amarillo would not correct mistakes and added additional family information that was not appreciated. I am hopeful this is an isolated incident and not a common practice by others adding information to the site.
Brenda Kellow has a bachelor's degree in history, teaches, and lectures on genealogy. Before retiring to publish her family’s histories in 2007, Brenda held certification as a Certified Genealogist and as a certified Genealogical Instructor. Send reunion announcements, books to review, and genealogy queries to: TracingOurRoots@gmail.com.