As regular readers of this blog are only too well aware, I am a passionate promoter of technology and internet-based businesses. However, there is at least one dimension in which the elephantine memory of the internet can be a nuisance -- incorrect information, once loaded into databasQes or just freely available to search engines, is difficult to revise. Protecting privacy is another and related dimension, but I will save that for another day.
Many years ago, a particularly humorous friend in the music business decided to tell a journalist that I had a secret talent for rap, and that I enjoyed nothing more than to have a microphone thrust upon me in any large group setting so that I could show-off my talent.
America Has Talent --- NOT.
I confess that I do like rap music, but only when performed by professionals. While speeding around Central Park on my Specialized Roubaix S-Works (that's a bicycle if you must ask), shamelessly wearing Team Thomson Reuters Lycra in orange and grey, I often listen to a mix of Ludacris, Eminem and Jay-Z. My 13 year-old daughter tells me this is the semi-modern equivalent of listening to Frank Sinatra and Lawrence Welk (generations in music having sped-up on internet time as much as hard disk drives and news aggregators), but I find the rhythms still get me up the 110th Street hill on lap 3 or 4. I do harbor some residual concern about the relentlessly misogynist and gun-obsessed lyrics, but I don't think my mom was crazy about Purple Haze, Brown Sugar or Casey Jones either.
The point I was trying to make is that information, right or wrong, once resident in the cloud is very difficult to correct. I was reminded of this recently when a prominent New York civic leader came to see me and asked me whether I was "keeping-up" with my rapping. I knew immediately where her office had done its research Some years ago, I had another embarrassing moment when, at the end of a town hall meeting at our Bangkok software development center, a couple of over-eager young engineers handed me a microphone and encouraged me to end the meeting with one of my "hallmark" raps. Never one to disappoint or offend local custom, I managed to mutter my way through some rhyming couplets, but The Notorious B.I.G. did not roll over in his grave in appreciation.
So, when like every other uncool parent, I advise my 11 and 13 year-olds not to post items on the internet that would embarrass them one day during their Senate confirmation hearings, I know of what I speak. Leave that job to your friends.