Travis Smith: my resume, bio and photos back to the main blog page

The Atlantic had a great article recently called I’m Being Followed: How Google—and 104 Other Companies—Are Tracking Me on the Web.  It talked about the amazing, epic, gargantuan collection of data about you that goes on online every time you click.

The article itself is thought provoking, but it opened up an even deeper question for me.

A story I read about 20 years ago talked about an scientist who became an invisible man, and had the government after him with all the resources it could muster.  There was a task for of dozens of people who hunter for him constantly.  They tapped dozens of phone lines of old friends and relatives.  They got all his records from every moment of his life and put it all… in a medium sized room.

Today. we are creating digital version of ourselves online, through social media, online databases, Web site profiles, log files… the archive of information about what I have done in the past ten years is far, far more vast.

And here’s the interesting thing.  I have a particular image of myself.  I think of myself as smart, kind, outgoing, etc. etc.  But what if my digital self proves I’m not? What if my digital self is stingy? What if my digital self is mendacious?  What if this digital shadow is fleshed out, is so clear a representation of myself, that someday I have to confront it, me, the knowledge that I am not what I think I am?

This is already being done to some extent: Google knows what to advertise to me, and how, in ways that I myself might say are ineffective or misguided, and yet, my digital self reveals that they will work, that they do work, that they did work.

What happens when our digital selves—the part of us that searches for “ways to hide stains” and “how to get out of a parking ticket” and the part that doesn’t remember birthdays any more—when those digital selves become more fully visible to others?  I don’t know if my shadow self would look nearly as nice in the sunlight…



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My Sister Moved Out


“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?




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