artifacts of thought

July 21, 2010 ·

as someone who puts a lot of ideas, thoughts and just words out there one the internet through various channels, i ponder the lasting effect of that stockpile of intellect. and i am in no way as prolific as some so i imagine this applies even more to others. what i mean to say is this digital age brings about an accountability of thought not seen before.

in the digital age, things last forever. ideas are artifacts. what we say, write, record and generally produce have an indefinite lifespan. but what if we change? what if we contradict? what if there's new information that bears consideration and alters our thinking? what if we encounter something that just radically reshapes us?

mainly i think about this because ideas are always popping into my head and i let them out. whether online or in conversation or elsewhere, i put them out to see what kind of life they have. i do and say a lot to get reactions from people. i don't always like to ponder ideas on my own. instead i like to put them out there to see what others think and how they can elaborate on them. i am by no means an expert on anything so i value what others can input. agree, disagree, doesn't matter, i'm just testing the waters and often don't have a firm stance myself.

the thing about online though is that it becomes part of you. another piece to your sum. people can interpret that as being your views, opinion, stance, whatever. it becomes part of your legacy. deviations aren't always well received so what happens if you do? what's the effect on perception people will have if they find two colliding ideas?

in politics it's called "flip-flopping" and it rarely, if ever, is an ingratiating quality. ask john kerry. it's not a moniker that is a hallmark of success. most of us have a lot less at stake, but the personal (and relative) stakes are still high.

i'm not saying this is going to happen a lot where people are burned by antithetical ideas, but it's becoming a lot easier to arise. job interviews are a universal experience that these instances can crop up in. public figures of all ilks are more acutely susceptible to this. and a lot more people are public figures these days.

this is a different concern than just the personal brand debate that still has verity today. it's part of it, but a different angle. more meta. less about inappropriateness and more about discrepancy.

so should we carefully consider every little thing we digitize? or should we be open with our ideas and put them out there for the world to do what they want with whether you are fully onboard with them or not?

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