Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age (New in Paper)

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Overview

"If the gathering, storage, and processing of information puts us all in the center of a digital panopticon, the failure to forget creates a panopticon crossbred with a time-travel machine. Mayer-Schönberger catalogs the range of social concerns that are arising as technology favors remembering over forgetting, and offers some approaches that might give forgetting a respected place in the digital world. Read this book. Don't forget about forgetting."—David Clark, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"Delete is, ironically, a book you will not forget. It provides a sweeping but well-balanced account of the challenges we face in a world where our digital traces are saved for life. These issues transcend just issues of privacy but go to the heart of how our society and we as individuals function, remember, and learn. I highly recommend this most informative and delightful book."—John Seely Brown, University of Southern California, coauthor of The Social Life of Information

"An erudite and wide-reaching account of the role that forgetting has played in history—and how forgetting became an exception due to digital technology and global networks. Mayer-Schönberger vividly depicts the legal, social, and cultural implications of a world that no longer remembers how to forget. Delete deserves the broadest possible readership."—Paul M. Schwartz, Berkeley School of Law

"In a work of extraordinary breadth and erudition, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger broadens the 'privacy' debate to encompass the dimension of time. His concept of 'digital forgetting' reshapes how sociologists, technologists, and policymakers must define and protect individual autonomy as technology usurps the prerogatives of human memory."—Philip Evans, Boston Consulting Group

"Human society has taken for granted the fact of forgetting. Technology has made us less able to forget, and this change, as Mayer-Schönberger nicely demonstrates, will have a profound effect on society. We as a culture must think carefully and strategically about this incredibly significant problem. Delete will spark a debate we need to have."—Lawrence Lessig, author of Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy

"Delete is a refreshingly philosophical take on the new dilemmas created by extensive digital documentation of our daily lives. Mayer-Schönberger's background in business and technology leads him to a creative and novel response to the challenges generated by persistent storage of data. Delete is a valuable contribution."—Frank Pasquale, Seton Hall Law School

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Editorial Reviews

Wall Street Journal
In Delete, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger argues that we should be less troubled by the fleetingness of our digital records than by the way they can linger.
— Adam Keiper
Chronicle of Higher Education
Delete is one of a number of smart recent books that gently and eruditely warn us of the rising costs and risks of mindlessly diving into new digital environments—without, however, raising apocalyptic fears of the entire project. . . . [Mayer-Schonberger] is a digital enthusiast with a realistic sense of how we might go very wrong by embracing powerful tools before we understand them.
— Siva Vaidhyanathan
Science
There is no better source for fostering an informed debate on this issue.
Choice
In this brief book, Mayer-Schönberger focuses on a unique feature of the digital age: contemporaries have lost the capacity to forget. Many books on privacy frequently mention, but never address in detail, the implications of an almost perfect memory system that digital technology and global networks have brought about. . . . An interesting book, well within the reach of the intelligent reader.
Nature
Mayer-Schönberger raises questions about the power of technology and how it affects our interpretation of time. . . . He draws on a rich body of contemporary psychological theory to argue that both individuals and societies are obliged to rewrite or eliminate elements of the past that would render action in the present impossible.
— Fred Turner
Times Higher Education
Unlike so many books about the internet, which like to hit the panic button then run, Mayer-Schönberger stays around to offer a solution. . . . Mayer-Schönberger deserves to be applauded and Delete deserves to be read for making us aware of the timelessness of what we create and for getting us to consider what endless accumulation might portend.
— Paul Duguid
Irish Times
Mayer-Schönberger convincingly claims that our new status quo, the impossibility of forgetting, is severely misaligned to how the human brain works, and to how individuals and societies function. . . . Can anything be done? Delete is an accessible, thoughtful and alarming attempt to start debate.
— Karlin Lillington
New Scientist
As its title suggests, Delete is about forgetting, more specifically about the demise of forgetting and the resulting perils. . . . [Mayer-Schonberger] comes up with an interesting solution: expiration dates in electronic files. This would stop the files from existing forever and flooding us and the next generations with gigantic piles of mostly useless or even potentially harmful details. This proposal should not be forgotten as we navigate between the urge to record and immortalise our lives and the need to stay productive and sane.
— Yadin Dudai
Financial Times
Delete is a useful recap of the various methods that are—or could be—applied to dealing with the consequences of information abundance. It also adds a thought-provoking new twist to the literature.
— Richard Waters
Times Literary Supplement
Mayer-Schonberger deserves to be applauded and Delete deserves to be read for making us aware of the timelessness of what we created and for getting us to consider what endless accumulation might portend.
— Paul Duguid
Newark Star-Ledger
A lively, accessible argument . . . that all that stored and shared data is a serious threat to life as we know it.
— Jim Willse
Globe and Mail

Delete offers many scary examples of how the control of personal information stored in e-memory can fall into the wrong hands. . . . Lucid, eminently readable.
— Winifred Gallagher

National Post
Surprising and fascinating. . . . Delete opens a highly useful debate.
— Robert Fulford
Canberra Times
To argue for more forgetting is counter-intuitive to those who value information, history and transparency, but the writer pursues it systematically and thoroughly.
— Richard Thwaites
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
A fascinating work of social and technological criticism. . . . The book explores the ways various technologies has altered the human relationship with memory, shifting us from a society where the default was to forget (and consequently forgive) to one where it is impossible to avoid the ramifications of a permanent record.
— Philip Martin
WIRED Magazine
A fascinating book.
— Clive Thompson
Cyberlaw
This book . . . is laid out like an invitation to such a sparring session. There you find the detailed arguments, spread out one by one. Get ready to highlight where you agree, note contradictions and arguments not carried through to their consequential end, and make annotations where you feel a new punch. The session will be worth the effort.
— Herbert Burkert
Identity in the Information Society
Clearly the conversation has begun, and Delete is well placed to contribute.
— Matthew L. Smith
Newark Star Ledger

A lively, accessible argument . . . that all that stored and shared data is a serious threat to life as we know it.
— Jim Willse
Arkansas Democrat Gazette

A fascinating work of social and technological criticism. . . . The book explores the ways various technologies has altered the human relationship with memory, shifting us from a society where the default was to forget (and consequently forgive) to one where it is impossible to avoid the ramifications of a permanent record.
— Philip Martin
Globe & Mail
Delete offers many scary examples of how the control of personal information stored in e-memory can fall into the wrong hands. . . . Lucid, eminently readable.
— Winifred Gallagher
Times Literary Supplement - Paul Duguid
Unlike so many books about the internet, which like to hit the panic button then run, Mayer-Schönberger stays around to offer a solution. . . . Mayer-Schönberger deserves to be applauded and Delete deserves to be read for making us aware of the timelessness of what we create and for getting us to consider what endless accumulation might portend.
Wall Street Journal - Adam Keiper
In Delete, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger argues that we should be less troubled by the fleetingness of our digital records than by the way they can linger.
Nature - Fred Turner
Mayer-Schönberger raises questions about the power of technology and how it affects our interpretation of time. . . . He draws on a rich body of contemporary psychological theory to argue that both individuals and societies are obliged to rewrite or eliminate elements of the past that would render action in the present impossible.
WIRED Magazine - Clive Thompson
A fascinating book.
New Scientist - Yadin Dudai
As its title suggests, Delete is about forgetting, more specifically about the demise of forgetting and the resulting perils. . . . [Mayer-Schonberger] comes up with an interesting solution: expiration dates in electronic files. This would stop the files from existing forever and flooding us and the next generations with gigantic piles of mostly useless or even potentially harmful details. This proposal should not be forgotten as we navigate between the urge to record and immortalise our lives and the need to stay productive and sane.
Financial Times - Richard Waters
Delete is a useful recap of the various methods that are—or could be—applied to dealing with the consequences of information abundance. It also adds a thought-provoking new twist to the literature.
Cyberlaw - Herbert Burkert
This book . . . is laid out like an invitation to such a sparring session. There you find the detailed arguments, spread out one by one. Get ready to highlight where you agree, note contradictions and arguments not carried through to their consequential end, and make annotations where you feel a new punch. The session will be worth the effort.
Newark Star Ledger - Jim Willse
A lively, accessible argument . . . that all that stored and shared data is a serious threat to life as we know it.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - Philip Martin
A fascinating work of social and technological criticism. . . . The book explores the ways various technologies has altered the human relationship with memory, shifting us from a society where the default was to forget (and consequently forgive) to one where it is impossible to avoid the ramifications of a permanent record.
Irish Times - Karlin Lillington
Mayer-Schönberger convincingly claims that our new status quo, the impossibility of forgetting, is severely misaligned to how the human brain works, and to how individuals and societies function. . . . Can anything be done? Delete is an accessible, thoughtful and alarming attempt to start debate.
Canberra Times - Richard Thwaites
To argue for more forgetting is counter-intuitive to those who value information, history and transparency, but the writer pursues it systematically and thoroughly.
National Post - Robert Fulford
Surprising and fascinating. . . . Delete opens a highly useful debate.
Globe and Mail - Winifred Gallagher
Delete offers many scary examples of how the control of personal information stored in e-memory can fall into the wrong hands. . . . Lucid, eminently readable.
Chronicle of Higher Education - Siva Vaidhyanathan
Delete is one of a number of smart recent books that gently and eruditely warn us of the rising costs and risks of mindlessly diving into new digital environments—without, however, raising apocalyptic fears of the entire project. . . . [Mayer-Schonberger] is a digital enthusiast with a realistic sense of how we might go very wrong by embracing powerful tools before we understand them.
Identity in the Information Society - Matthew L. Smith
Clearly the conversation has begun, and Delete is well placed to contribute.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2010 Marshall McLuhan Award for Outstanding Book in Media ecology, Media Ecology Association

Winner of the 2010 Don K. Price Award, Science, Technology, and Environmental Politics Section of the American Political Science Association

"Mayer-Schonberger deserves to be applauded and Delete deserves to be read for making us aware of the timelessness of what we created and for getting us to consider what endless accumulation might portend."—Paul Duguid, Times Literary Supplement

"In Delete, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger argues that we should be less troubled by the fleetingness of our digital records than by the way they can linger."—Adam Keiper, Wall Street Journal

"Mayer-Schönberger raises questions about the power of technology and how it affects our interpretation of time. . . . He draws on a rich body of contemporary psychological theory to argue that both individuals and societies are obliged to rewrite or eliminate elements of the past that would render action in the present impossible."—Fred Turner, Nature

"There is no better source for fostering an informed debate on this issue."—Science

"A fascinating book."—Clive Thompson, WIRED Magazine

"As its title suggests, Delete is about forgetting, more specifically about the demise of forgetting and the resulting perils. . . . [Mayer-Schonberger] comes up with an interesting solution: expiration dates in electronic files. This would stop the files from existing forever and flooding us and the next generations with gigantic piles of mostly useless or even potentially harmful details. This proposal should not be forgotten as we navigate between the urge to record and immortalise our lives and the need to stay productive and sane."—Yadin Dudai, New Scientist

"Delete is a useful recap of the various methods that are—or could be—applied to dealing with the consequences of information abundance. It also adds a thought-provoking new twist to the literature."—Richard Waters, Financial Times

"Unlike so many books about the internet, which like to hit the panic button then run, Mayer-Schönberger stays around to offer a solution. . . . Mayer-Schönberger deserves to be applauded and Delete deserves to be read for making us aware of the timelessness of what we create and for getting us to consider what endless accumulation might portend."—Paul Duguid, Times Higher Education

"This book . . . is laid out like an invitation to such a sparring session. There you find the detailed arguments, spread out one by one. Get ready to highlight where you agree, note contradictions and arguments not carried through to their consequential end, and make annotations where you feel a new punch. The session will be worth the effort."—Herbert Burkert, Cyberlaw
"A lively, accessible argument . . . that all that stored and shared data is a serious threat to life as we know it."—Jim Willse, Newark Star Ledger

"A fascinating work of social and technological criticism. . . . The book explores the ways various technologies has altered the human relationship with memory, shifting us from a society where the default was to forget (and consequently forgive) to one where it is impossible to avoid the ramifications of a permanent record."—Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

"Mayer-Schönberger convincingly claims that our new status quo, the impossibility of forgetting, is severely misaligned to how the human brain works, and to how individuals and societies function. . . . Can anything be done? Delete is an accessible, thoughtful and alarming attempt to start debate."—Karlin Lillington, Irish Times

"To argue for more forgetting is counter-intuitive to those who value information, history and transparency, but the writer pursues it systematically and thoroughly."—Richard Thwaites, Canberra Times

"Surprising and fascinating. . . . Delete opens a highly useful debate."—Robert Fulford, National Post

"Delete offers many scary examples of how the control of personal information stored in e-memory can fall into the wrong hands. . . . Lucid, eminently readable."—Winifred Gallagher, Globe and Mail

"Delete is one of a number of smart recent books that gently and eruditely warn us of the rising costs and risks of mindlessly diving into new digital environments—without, however, raising apocalyptic fears of the entire project. . . . [Mayer-Schonberger] is a digital enthusiast with a realistic sense of how we might go very wrong by embracing powerful tools before we understand them."—Siva Vaidhyanathan, Chronicle of Higher Education

"In this brief book, Mayer-Schönberger focuses on a unique feature of the digital age: contemporaries have lost the capacity to forget. Many books on privacy frequently mention, but never address in detail, the implications of an almost perfect memory system that digital technology and global networks have brought about. . . . An interesting book, well within the reach of the intelligent reader."—Choice

"Clearly the conversation has begun, and Delete is well placed to contribute."—Matthew L. Smith, Identity in the Information Society

Wall Street Journal

In Delete, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger argues that we should be less troubled by the fleetingness of our digital records than by the way they can linger.
— Adam Keiper
Chronicle of Higher Education

Delete is one of a number of smart recent books that gently and eruditely warn us of the rising costs and risks of mindlessly diving into new digital environments--without, however, raising apocalyptic fears of the entire project. . . . [Mayer-Schonberger] is a digital enthusiast with a realistic sense of how we might go very wrong by embracing powerful tools before we understand them.
— Siva Vaidhyanathan
Science

There is no better source for fostering an informed debate on this issue.
Choice

In this brief book, Mayer-Schönberger focuses on a unique feature of the digital age: contemporaries have lost the capacity to forget. Many books on privacy frequently mention, but never address in detail, the implications of an almost perfect memory system that digital technology and global networks have brought about. . . . An interesting book, well within the reach of the intelligent reader.
Nature

Mayer-Schönberger raises questions about the power of technology and how it affects our interpretation of time. . . . He draws on a rich body of contemporary psychological theory to argue that both individuals and societies are obliged to rewrite or eliminate elements of the past that would render action in the present impossible.
— Fred Turner
Times Higher Education

Unlike so many books about the internet, which like to hit the panic button then run, Mayer-Schönberger stays around to offer a solution. . . . Mayer-Schönberger deserves to be applauded and Delete deserves to be read for making us aware of the timelessness of what we create and for getting us to consider what endless accumulation might portend.
— Paul Duguid
Irish Times

Mayer-Schönberger convincingly claims that our new status quo, the impossibility of forgetting, is severely misaligned to how the human brain works, and to how individuals and societies function. . . . Can anything be done? Delete is an accessible, thoughtful and alarming attempt to start debate.
— Karlin Lillington
New Scientist

As its title suggests, Delete is about forgetting, more specifically about the demise of forgetting and the resulting perils. . . . [Mayer-Schonberger] comes up with an interesting solution: expiration dates in electronic files. This would stop the files from existing forever and flooding us and the next generations with gigantic piles of mostly useless or even potentially harmful details. This proposal should not be forgotten as we navigate between the urge to record and immortalise our lives and the need to stay productive and sane.
— Yadin Dudai
Financial Times

Delete is a useful recap of the various methods that are--or could be--applied to dealing with the consequences of information abundance. It also adds a thought-provoking new twist to the literature.
— Richard Waters
Times Literary Supplement

Mayer-Schonberger deserves to be applauded and Delete deserves to be read for making us aware of the timelessness of what we created and for getting us to consider what endless accumulation might portend.
— Paul Duguid
Globe and Mail

Delete offers many scary examples of how the control of personal information stored in e-memory can fall into the wrong hands. . . . Lucid, eminently readable.
— Winifred Gallagher
National Post

Surprising and fascinating. . . . Delete opens a highly useful debate.
— Robert Fulford
Canberra Times

To argue for more forgetting is counter-intuitive to those who value information, history and transparency, but the writer pursues it systematically and thoroughly.
— Richard Thwaites
WIRED Magazine

A fascinating book.
— Clive Thompson
Cyberlaw

This book . . . is laid out like an invitation to such a sparring session. There you find the detailed arguments, spread out one by one. Get ready to highlight where you agree, note contradictions and arguments not carried through to their consequential end, and make annotations where you feel a new punch. The session will be worth the effort.
— Herbert Burkert
Identity in the Information Society

Clearly the conversation has begun, and Delete is well placed to contribute.
— Matthew L. Smith
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691150369
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/25/2011
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 807,601
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger is professor of internet governance and regulation at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, and a member of the academic advisory board of Microsoft. His other books include "Governance and Information Technology". A former software developer and lawyer, he spent ten years on the faculty of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Chapter I: Failing to Forget the "Drunken Pirate" 1
Chapter II: The Role of Remembering and the Importance of Forgetting 16
Chapter III: The Demise of Forgetting—and Its Drivers 50
Chapter IV: Of Power and Time—Consequences of the Demise of Forgetting 92
Chapter V: Potential Responses 128
Chapter VI: Reintroducing Forgetting 169
Chapter VII: Conclusions 196
Afterword to the Paperback Edition 201
Notes 211
Bibliography 231
Index 245

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 2, 2010

    Ebook More Expensive Then Printed Book? Really BN? Really?

    I really want to read this book and since I bought a nook in part to reduce the ridiculous amount of printed books I own, I started looking for the eBook version of this title. I know the Kindle version is about 15$. Well I was quite surprised that the BN eBook version is 20 dollars and change and is in fact PRICED (very slightly) HIGHER THEN THE PRINTED BOOK. Wow, Barnes and Noble. Its bad enough that your eBooks are priced noticeably higher then Kindle books (in some cases, insanely higher), but to price any digital book higher then a printed book is ridiculous.

    BN, I expected better from you.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted December 2, 2011

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