Forgetting and Being Forgotten: Growing Up in a Digital Era


[Clifford]: I have a wonderful speaker for
us this afternoon that I am very, very pleased to have at CNI, Professor Kate Eichhorn. Kate is a professor of new media and culture
at the New School in New York. She wrote an amazing book that came out over
the summer called The End of Forgetting, which I hope at least some of you have read, and
I suspect that many of you will read if you haven’t read it after hearing her. I read this book. I’ve been fascinated by the whole question
of remembering and forgetting and how that plays out in the digital environment for years
and have followed discussions about things like the right to be forgotten and some of
the effects of digitization and digital media on how we remember and how families remember
and things like that. And so I heard this book was coming out and
read it shortly after it came out, and it’s just a wonderfully insightful restructuring
and rearrangement of the whole argument and the whole question, and I certainly came away
thinking really differently about some of the issues here. I reached out to Kate and she very graciously,
after a little persuading, agreed to come and speak with us. And as I got to know her work a little better
– and I probably should have recognized this more clearly just in reading her book – she
actually has a very deep understanding of archives and special collections, and other
parts of her body of work have been deeply involved with them from other aspects, so
her thinking about this is deeply informed and perceptive from many different angles
and I think she’ll bring all of that to us here today. So please join me in welcoming Kate, I’m just
so pleased to have her here. [Kate]: Thanks so much for that lovely introduction. It’s always an honor to have these invitations,
particularly when they come from colleagues who are not in your immediate field, but as
some of you will know, I have been writing about archives and libraries and more broadly
about questions of media memory for many years. And I’ll say in advance that I’ve always done
this as a humanities scholar, and so I do recognize that sometimes humanities scholars
talk about these questions in an inaccurate, somewhat metaphorical and even irritating
way. Archivists always tell me that there’s nothing
more irritating than a humanities scholar talking about how magical the archive is. And as my friend Jenna Freedman at Barnard
likes to say, these materials don’t just appear. So a call-out to recognize, thank you for
making these materials accessible to those of us who work in humanities fields. So today I’m going to talk about my most recent
book, The End of Forgetting, but since I delivered that manuscript to Harvard in summer 2017,
a lot’s happened. And so I’m also going to use a lot of examples
today that point to more recent political events, and since I even published the book
last June, I think that my thinking about this question has also evolved, and so the
conclusion to the talk points to some of the things I’m thinking about now. In the 20th century, if one was truly mortified
by a photograph from childhood or adolescence, there was a simple solution – secretly slip
the photograph out of its frame or family photo album and destroy it. In seconds, a particularly awkward event or
stage of one’s life could be effectively placed under erasure. The photograph’s absence might have been noticed,
but in an analog era, unless one’s relatives were fastidious enough to keep the negatives
– and thank God most of them weren’t – once ripped up or burned, one could be more or
less sure that this embarrassing trace of the past had vanished. And without the photograph’s presence, one
could also assume that any lingering memories of the event or stage of life would soon fade
in one’s own mind and in the mind of others. In retrospect, this vulnerability to human
affect, to the shame and anger that once allowed us to destroy photographs with our bare hands,
may have been one of the great yet underappreciated features of analog media. Over two decades into the age of digital media,
the ability to leave one’s childhood and adolescent years behind, along with the likelihood of
having others forget one’s younger self, are already deeply imperiled. The shift isn’t entirely negative, but there
are compelling reasons to conclude that it comes at a cost, and it comes at a higher
cost to some people than others. And for this reason, how we respond as scholars,
as information professionals, and policymakers matters a great deal. So I want to begin with a fairly bold claim
that some people might disagree with: forgetting is no longer necessarily the default, it’s
already the exception to the rule. And I’m not talking about everyday forgetting
– we still forget names and places, whether or not we have any milk in the refrigerator,
so on and so forth. What we’re losing isn’t forgetting on a short-term
basis, but more precisely our ability to control what is remembered and forgotten over time. And to illustrate, I think it’s useful to
think about this recent event. Sometime a couple months ago, the New York
Times had an article about MegaFace. And so back in 2004, long before today’s digital
natives were uploading photographs of themselves and their friends to Instagram or Snapchat
or other social media platforms, their parents and grandparents were uploading photographs
to sites such as Flickr, and they were taking those photographs. And as reported in the Times this fall, none
of them could have foreseen that, 14 years later, those images would reside in a huge
facial recognition database called MegaFace. Containing over 700,000 photographs of individuals,
the database has been downloaded by dozens of companies to train a new generation of
face identification algorithms, and it’s used to track protesters, surveil terrorists, and
spy on the public at large. But MegaFace is just one example among many
of what I’m talking about. So in this talk, I want to talk a bit about
the history of children and youth and their engagements with media technologies and what’s
changed, particularly over the last 20 years. I want to talk about some of the social and
psychological impacts of these changes, and I want to conclude by talking about the political
impacts of these changes. Since I completed my book – this is not something
I write about in the book – but since I’ve completed the book, one of the things I’ve
started to think about is that the reason why the decline of forgetting matters is that
it risks calcifying political perspectives, including extreme political perspectives,
at a younger age. But first I want to go back in time. So to be fair, we’ve always been trying to
overcome forgetting, and as a media studies professor I talk about the fact that most
media technologies were developed for one of two reasons – to overcome the barriers
of space or time. And if you’re talking about overcoming the
barrier of time, you’re really talking about overcoming the limits of human memory. How do you create machines that can preserve
something and have it move across generations? And as much as we’ve at times been suspicious
of these memory-making machines, we’ve also been enamored by them. In a 1923 issue of Kodakery, which was a trade
magazine put out by Kodak, a commentator philosophically reflected, “Kodak is a partner of memory,
a silent partner, yet able to be very eloquent, full of interesting suggestions without saying
a word.” And it’s almost as if the commentator was
reading Freud. It reminds me of Freud’s essay “Screen Memories,”
and he talks about the fact that childhood memories are always molded by powerful forces
from a later period. So what we remember isn’t accurate, it’s been
edited and curated to make it somewhat more tolerable. And I think that this passage isn’t unique. There were many media technologies throughout
the 20th century that were basically marketed as memory-making machines. It’s also important to point out, though,
that it wasn’t just adults that gained access to media technologies in the 20th century. Prior to the 20th century, children and youth
really were not able to represent and document their own lives, and with the invention of
the Brownie camera, late 19th century into the early 20th century, this changed. So people often talk about someone like Steve
Jobs as having been one of the first people to market technologies, not to businesses,
but to consumers, and also to create technologies that were child-friendly. And I’d argue that Eastman was doing this
in the late 19th century, early 20th century. But there were still limitations to something
like the Brownie camera. They were relatively affordable, at least
for middle-class families, but the film was actually quite expensive, and so if children
wanted, or adolescents wanted to document their own life, they still had to get an adult
to actually help them develop that film. So they could take a limited number of images,
and those images were subject to quite a bit of adult censorship. This changed a bit with the Polaroid camera. Some people have argued that Polaroids actually
were a precursor to today’s digital selfie culture, because you could literally take
that camera – it was very light – you could take a photograph of yourself and your friends,
and almost instantaneously enjoy the image. And many of us will remember that experience
of looking at the image come into view. So I think it’s a compelling argument and
media story, and Peter Buse makes this argument in his recent book on the history of the Polaroid
camera, but I’d argue that, if you actually think about those images, a Polaroid shares
more in common with a Renaissance painting than it does with a digital image. They’re one-of-a-kind documents. They were basically impossible to reproduce,
and so there are similarities in terms of how people interacted with those images, but
they’re very, very different than the digital images that we’re now dealing with. So I want to talk a bit about what I think
has changed. And in this particular audience, most of you
actually spend a lot of time thinking about these changes. I’d argue that the general public hasn’t necessarily
thought so much about all the changes that have happened over the past 20 years and how
they’ve affected children and youth. And so I want to talk about content, scale,
contacts, discoverability, and the value of imagemaking. So some of you might remember the Fotomat,
they were these weird little blue huts in the middle of a parking lot, and you would
bring your images to them. And my aunt actually worked at one, so I knew
that when she got people’s photographs back, she would look at them, so she knew what all
her neighbors were up to. So as a teenager, I would always tell my friends,
“Don’t bring your photographs to the Fotomat,” and we would drive to another town to get
the photographs developed, depending on what the content was. So although teenagers in the ’70s and ’80s
and ’90s, they could take photographs of themselves, unless they had access to a darkroom, those
images were still heavily censored and self-censored. And again with the Polaroid, you might be
able to take a picture of something more lascivious, but it was a one-of-a-kind document, it wasn’t
widely circulating. So problems that we now have with teenagers,
like sexting, for example, really didn’t exist in an analog era. So that’s one thing that’s changed, is the
actual content of the photographs being produced by young people. There’s also no question that the scale has
changed. This is a statistic that is often repeated
in articles about digital photography: 80 billion photographs in 2000; by 2015, 1 trillion,
75% of all those photographs shot on mobile phones. Interestingly, I haven’t been able to find
statistics about what happens after that, and I think we just stopped counting, honestly. One estimate is that, from 2015 on Snapchat,
8,796 images are posted every second, and over 30 million images every hour. So I think that probably explains why we’re
no longer keeping count. So the scale of the images in circulation
obviously is just something we can hardly grapple with. Another thing that of course has changed is
context. Who knows what this is an image of? Someone must. So it’s known as the “Star Wars kid.” It was actually recorded in 2002. The young man in the video, his name is Ghyslain
Raza, he was a 14-year-old at the time. He made this video of himself imitating a
Star Wars character. He left the cassette on a table at his school,
some kids found it, and it actually took them four months to upload it to the internet and
circulate it, because this is before Vimeo, it was before YouTube. And when it did finally end up on the internet,
it went viral. So it’s widely known as the first example
of an internet meme to go viral. It’s also probably the first moment when a
lot of people realized cyberbullying was going to be a big problem. He’s now in his 30s, he has recently spoken
out about cyberbullying and his experience. It was really devastating for him, but he’s
still known as the Star Wars kid. So that one moment, which was really meant
to be something that only he viewed, maybe a few friends, has come to kind of define
his life. So we can no longer easily, obviously, control
the context of images that were meant for a very limited audience. Another thing, of course, that’s changed is
the discoverability. We’ve already talked a bit about this, and
people have talked a lot about this at the conference. Again, you can think about a site like Flickr. I think that nothing could have seemed more
innocuous than taking photographs of your family on Flickr back in 2004, 2005, or 2006. It was an extension of a practice people had
already been engaged in for decades, writing a name or a place or a date on the back of
a photograph. No one understood exactly how they were contributing
to laying the groundwork for facial recognition technologies. I think we can also look at sites like Facebook,
I don’t think people realized in 2010 or 2011 when Facebook was pushing everyone to start
tagging their photographs that they were also pouring millions and millions of dollars into
developing facial recognition technologies. And so, obviously, discoverability has shifted. But in terms of children and youth, the most
important thing that’s shifted is the value of these images. I think that we can say with some certainty
that, in the past, no one really cared about what children or adolescents had to say. They weren’t interested in their videos, they
weren’t really interested in their images. We weren’t really interested in their opinions. And I like to say that, back in the ’80s,
kids hung out at the mall and they were seen as a social nuisance because they weren’t
buying anything. If you’re hanging out online, you’re generating
data. And so that is the real game-changer. I also want to, before I go on into the rest
of the talk, I want to make it clear that this isn’t a moral panic argument. I think that, particularly in my field, whenever
you critique any new media, people are like, “You’re engaging in a moral panic, you think
you need to protect young children.” I think the fact that, for the first time
in history, children and youth can document their own lives and share those images is
really exciting. The fact that young women for the first time
can really participate in the public sphere in a way they’ve never been able to do that
before, I think that’s incredibly exciting. So I certainly don’t think that we should
limit access in any way, shape, or form. I do think we need to talk seriously about
the fact that children and youth are engaged in free, uncompensated digital labor on a
daily basis, and I also think we need to think about the social and psychological and political
consequences of these shifts. So having said that, I’m going to skip ahead
and talk about – this is something I do talk about in the book – the decline of the psychosocial
moratorium. In the mid-20th century, a psychoanalyst named
Erik Erikson published several books, where he introduced this concept of the psychosocial
moratorium. And he essentially argued that the adolescent
mind, he says, is essentially the “mind of the moratorium,” which I think is kind of
funny, “a psychosocial stage between childhood and adulthood, and between the morality learned
by the child, and the ethics to be developed by the adult.” And he argued that, essentially this psychosocial
moratorium, it’s not a moratorium on experience, but a moratorium on consequences. So he’s arguing that, during this stage, you’re
able to go out and do things, make a few mistakes, and be forgiven. Now, I would argue that not everyone has always
been able to fully benefit from this psychosocial moratorium he’s talking about. To say that young visible minority men in
America haven’t had consequences for things they’ve done as youth would just be wrong. On the other hand, I do think that most cultures
across time would agree that young people should be able to make a few mistakes and
not be defined by them permanently. It’s why, in most places in the world, not
necessarily in the U.S., we have different laws for young offenders than we do for adult
offenders. So I think that what’s happening with the
decline of forgetting is that this psychosocial moratorium is eroding, that the ability of
young people to make mistakes and move on to reinvent themselves and not have their
past selves follow them into the future continues to go into decline, and that there are broader
consequences for that. And I want to talk about the shifts in relation
to some current social and political events. Many of you will recognize this calendar. I mean, it’s kind of ridiculous that we recognize
this calendar, it’s Brett Kavanaugh’s calendar, we were all looking at it for a couple weeks
in fall 2018. We were all obsessed with what he was doing
on a particular day at a particular party. And that’s a really interesting case to think
about. On the one hand, some forms of evidence – there’s
the notorious calendar, I think his mom probably just cooked it up in the basement. And also the yearbook, with the lewd remarks
about a classmate, did come forward. But at the end of the day, those printed documents
or manuscripts had no bearing whatsoever on the outcome of the hearing. And I kept asking myself, ‘What if it hadn’t
been 1982 and it had been 2012?” We would have had social media posts from
that party, there certainly would have been photographs. They’re digital photographs so they wouldn’t
just represent what happened, they’d carry metadata that would tell us who was there,
when they were taken, the location. And we would have cell phone tower data that
would tell us who was in the vicinity of that party. So the whole discussion, as opposed to pivoting
around the foggy memories of people now in their 50s, would have been a discussion about
that digital evidence. To me, there’s no question that in another
15 or 20 years, when the people are running for public office, we’re going to spend a
lot more time looking at what they were doing when they were teens, and it will involve
that kind of evidence. I think, in some ways, it’s interesting to
compare him to Kyle Kashuv. He was one of the survivors of the shooting
in Parkland, Florida. Unlike his classmates, Kyle did not become
an anti-gun lobbyist after that shooting, he became a sort of NRA poster boy. And for a while, things were going very well
for Kyle, he had the invitation to the White House, he was also getting other high-profile
speaking gigs like this one, and he got something that every young American wants, which is
an acceptance to Harvard University. Many of you will know what happened next. After he received his acceptance, his classmates
remembered that back before his notoriety, before the shooting, I think it was in tenth
grade, when he was only 15. He had been working on a homework assignment
in a Google Doc, and repeatedly use the N-word in that Google Doc. They remembered this; he also remembered,
because he actually went back and deleted those comments, so he knew it was wrong. But it was very easy for them to recover an
earlier version of the Google Doc. They shared that with the media, and of course
Harvard rescinded his offer. And I think there’s many reasons to applaud
Harvard for their decision, and it’s not the first time in recent years that they’ve rescinded
offers of students who have been found to be posting something racist or anti-Semitic
or sexist on a social media site. But I also think it raises some interesting
questions about how that digital data that students produce on a regular basis in schools
is going to follow them into the future and the impacts it will have on their life. So it might be actually more appropriate to
compare Kyle’s actions to – of course, this is the prime minister of Canada. I just want to say, as a Canadian, I’m not
proud of this. And Governor Northam, right? There are two elected officials who didn’t
have to pay any price. Another question we have to ask ourselves
is, where were these images? They had already both been elected into those
positions by the time those images came to the surface. In the future, I don’t think that that’s going
to be possible. And this came up in the opening plenary, what
does it mean to digitize high school yearbooks? On the one hand, that project could be really
interesting because these images won’t just be hiding in someone’s drawer anymore. On the other hand, there are other images
in those yearbooks that might incriminate people in ways that we don’t want. So they’re just questions, I think, that we
need to ask ourselves. The other thing, on the topic of data in schools,
so in Kyle’s case he was using a shared Google Doc, which is part of the Google Classroom
suite, and it’s a very common application used in the K-12 system. But it’s not just Google Docs and digitized
yearbooks that we’re talking about. We’re also, particularly in the United States,
where educators are concerned about school shootings, there are a variety of school security
apps that have come on the market over the last few years, including this one, which
is called Bark. And essentially what happens is, it monitors
any kind of digital activity happening in your school. So if a student’s looking at a questionable
YouTube video, a message might be sent to an administrator. If a student texts their friend in the middle
of the day and they say, “I was going to kill myself laughing when the teacher tripped over
the extension cord,” “kill myself” will be flagged, and somebody will follow up with
the student to make sure they don’t want to commit suicide, so they also make these mistakes. What is disturbing about the school security
apps is, although the private companies usually claim they delete the data after 30 days,
they share that data with schools, and most school boards actually keep that data for
years. We also know that, in some cases, if there’s
any sense that a student might be at risk of committing a school shooting, they’ll share
that data with the local police, and we don’t know how long that data will survive. So there are a variety of questions about
privacy in teens and adolescents. So there’s two issues here: one, I think that
teens are being asked to be more accountable than adults in some cases, and then I think
there’s a bigger question about where all of this data from private education companies
and school security companies resides, the duration of its existence, and its potential
impact over time. The worst-case scenario is that some of that
data will survive, and theoretically could be sold to a job recruiter years later, so
that you could have information that was collected about you as a middle schooler that’s then
being sold in some other context. I’m not saying that’s going to happen, but
right now there’s really no regulations, and so these are questions we need to think about. Another issue I want to talk about is the
extent to which young people are becoming, I think, overly risk averse. So, we hear a lot about young people, like
Naomi H. was in the news about a year ago. She got an internship at NASA. She did what one would do, she went and posted
online and said, “Everyone shut the F up, I got accepted for a NASA internship.” I would do the same. But her friend did what someone would do,
she retweeted it using the NASA hashtag. A former NASA engineer saw it, commented on
her vulgar language, and she lost her internship. And so every week we hear stories about members
of Gen Z saying or doing dumb things online. I want to argue that I think they’re the exception
to the rule. I actually think young people are by and large
extremely risk averse and kind of obsessed with their reputation management, and there’s
some evidence to support this. So we know college admissions officers over
recent years have increasingly been looking at social media profiles, but interestingly,
since 2015, fewer of them are looking at social media profiles, and if you ask them why, they’ll
tell you it’s because they’re not really finding very much anymore, because young people are
becoming increasingly concerned about what they post online. And I would say that this has actually been
happening for a while. This is a 2012 Pew Research survey, and they
found already then a high percentage of young people, 59%, had deleted or edited something,
45% had removed their names from photos in which they were tagged. And I think they’re doing this because they
know that how they show up online will profoundly impact their future. And in this case I think LinkedIn is a really
interesting example. A few years ago, I did what one does as a
responsible parent in a digital era and I googled my daughter, who was 13 at the time. And I was bracing myself, I thought, “What’s
going to show up?” And the thing that showed up online was her
LinkedIn account. I knew that at the time you had to be 14 to
get on LinkedIn, so I did what one – it felt kind of ridiculous, in the ’80s people lied
about their age to get into a bar, now kids are lying to get on LinkedIn. So I confronted my daughter, who was in middle
school still, and I said, “Did you lie about your age to get on LinkedIn?” and she said,
“I did,” and I said “Why did you do that?” and she told me it’s because LinkedIn is search
engine optimized and that it would rank first, which I thought was very smart. But I also had this question, “Is my kid a
freak?” and what I found out is, actually, there are thousands of underage LinkedIn users
around the world. So originally LinkedIn had a threshold of
18. In 2013, they lowered their age to 14 in the
United States, 13 in some jurisdictions in the world. And now recently they’ve raised it back up
to 16. I contacted LinkedIn a few months ago and
I tried to get data on how many underage users they have and they would not share that data
with me, and they really wouldn’t talk about it at all, which I thought was curious, but
I’m still going to try to write about this. So I’ve been interviewing young people and
asking them why they have a LinkedIn profile, how they’re using it. Some of these kids are in middle school or
early high school, and they always say the same thing: they are terrified that if they
don’t have a professional profile of themselves wearing corporate clothes, standing in front
of an office building with their accomplishments coming up first on Google, that they won’t
ever get into college or get a job. And I think that that’s kind of sad. So I think that what we’re talking about here
is, as opposed to focusing on young people doing dumb things online, I think we need
to be talking about that kind of extreme risk aversion. If you have people who are so afraid that
they might say or do something that comes back to haunt them, will they ever be able
to innovate, to try out new identities, experiment with new ideas? So I think that that’s one risk. And then I think the real risk is not really
a social question but a political question. So I think it’s really easy to look at the
gentleman here with their “Don’t be a pussy, vote for Trump” signs and their trucker caps
and think, “Well, they’re hopeless. They’re probably living in a rural area, they’re
right-wing. That’s it for them.” But if we imagine that, let’s say they’re
in their late teens, and we think about what happens to people when they go off to university,
we know that when people do an undergraduate degree, they tend to move to the left. I don’t think that it’s because only people
who are already more liberal-minded end up doing university degrees. I think a lot of people arrive on campuses
and their perspective shifts over those four years. And so I think – and there’s evidence, again,
to support this idea. Right now we know that people who identify
as Republicans are losing faith in U.S. universities, not because they think it’s not a good way
to get a job, but because they feel that they’re ideological leftist sites. There’s even – I don’t know if anybody here
is from Iowa, someone is trying to pass a bill where you will have to ask all university
faculty who they vote for. Yeah. And if the difference between Republicans
and Democrats is more than 10%, there’ll be a hiring freeze, and so obviously this is… I don’t think this is going to happen. Apparently, the senator actually lied about
his higher education credentials and he’s not running again. So I think he just doesn’t like us. But all this to say that I do think that something
happens between the ages of 17 or 18 and 22 or 23. People change. And I don’t think everyone leaves university
with the same opinions that they had when they arrived. But I think that something potentially very
troubling is happening right now. Because people’s tweets, images, so on and
so forth from their teen years are online, it is potentially going to be more difficult
for people to undergo that transformation. And I’ll just conclude by, unfortunately,
bringing up Kyle Kashuv again, because I think it’s an interesting example. When he lost his offer to Harvard University,
he did want any digital native would do – he went online and he tweeted about it. And this is what he said. He said, “Throughout its history, Harvard’s
faculty have included slave owners, segregationists, bigots, and anti-Semites. If Harvard is suggesting that growth isn’t
possible and that our past defines our future, then Harvard is an inherently racist institution.” And honestly, I think his argument is a poor
excuse for his actions, but it does raise a question. Should the past define one’s future? If there’s no hope that one can change over
time, what are the broader implications, not only for individuals, but also for society? What we’re really risking here is a society
where geeky kids will remain geeky, where dumb jocks will remain dumb, and worse yet,
bigots will remain bigots, because the idea that you can change will no longer exist. So identities and political perspectives will
be calcified, not necessarily because people are resistant or unable to change, but rather
because the past will define who one is in the present and the future. And I think in a world where partisan politics
and extremism continue to gain ground, this may ultimately be the real consequence of
coming of age in the era when childhood and adolescence replay on an endless digital loop. So I just want to leave you with some questions,
which I’m sure you’ve already thought about before. And namely, as information professionals,
how should we preserve and render images and other artifacts produced by and about young
people discoverable? And what are the ethical and political stakes
in these decisions that we’ll be making over the coming years? Thank you so much again for the opportunity
to be here. Thanks. So I don’t know if there’s any questions. Don’t feel obliged, I know it’s the end of
the conference. [Audience member]: Thanks so much for leaving
us with such interesting commentary and so much to think about. I’m wondering if you think there might be
a point in time when everyone shares the same very exposed youth, and that might shift at
all the perceptions of what is acceptable, what’s unacceptable, that whole notion. I wonder if you think there’ll be a point
in time where that youth exposure might be viewed differently because everyone shares
the same history, if that makes sense. [Kate]: Yeah, no, and this is a question I’ve
thought a lot about because people always ask it, will we end up just having a new normal? And I think that my fear is that this new
normal will be very unequally rolled out, and I’ll use an example here around sexual
assault. So young women who are assaulted, often those
assaults are now recorded and repeated online, so theoretically having this visual evidence
that someone was assaulted should actually lead to more charges, it should actually be
a really liberatory moment for young women. Instead, what’s happening is, those images,
in one case there was a really drawn-out case that I talk about in my book that took place
in Canada, actually, in 2011, 2012. And in that case, the actual images of this
15-year-old girl being raped at a party, the judge originally said, “Well, she was smiling,
and so therefore she obviously consented.” And so sometimes those images are used against
young women. So when I think about this new normal, what
I think is that people who are already marginalized will probably have the most at stake. You could talk about this in terms of hiring,
too, people who already face discrimination in the job market. Will recruiters be more likely to go back
and dig and find images that are incriminating? It’s like, if you want to find it, it’s there. Will people like Northam or Prime Minister
Trudeau necessarily in the future face more interrogation because of those images? Maybe not. So I’m not so optimistic. I think that the kind of existing power relations
will be replicated. That’s a really cynical answer but, yeah. [Audience member]: I’m Michael Seadle from
the University of Berlin. In Germany, there is a legal right to be forgotten,
and court has recently confirmed that. To the best of my knowledge, that law doesn’t
apply in the United States. Is a legal right to be forgotten sufficient? Or is the gap between what law says and what
is technically possible too great? [Kate]: Yeah, I think that a legal right to
be forgotten is a step in the right direction, but that it is very unlikely to happen in
the United States. For most people in Germany, the idea of accumulating
vast amounts of knowledge permanently is viewed in a very different light than it is in the
United States, so the historical and cultural contexts of different countries makes the
right to be forgotten something that, yeah, I just don’t see it happening here, because
whenever it comes up, it’s seen as an affront on people’s right to access information. But I think it’s a step in the right direction. It might not be enough, but it is moving toward
something that is a possible partial solution. Yeah. If there’s no more questions or queries, I
will wrap things up and we’ll move on with the end of the conference. Thank you so much again, I really was honored
to be here. [Clifford]: So there’s an awful lot to ponder
there, and there’s a lot of things to think about in a surprising number of contexts. I have to say that one of the things that
Kate’s work really helped illuminate for me was how much baggage is following around younger
people now in a way that certainly 20 or 30 years ago, even, was unheard of. And that’s a really important phenomenon and
I think a really important thing to understand as we try and understand students and then
as it moves out into society, so I’m really grateful for you sharing that perspective
with us. I think it gives us a lot to think about,
too, about archiving, about family histories, and about public policy. Your example with the schools is really fascinating
and troubling, and that’s the kind of thing that really is potentially… you could do
something about that with the public policy lever, in a way that social media broadly
is much, much more difficult to do anything with. Anyway, I hope that you’ve come away from
this with a lot to think about, and I would just say, Kate’s book is very rich and explores
a lot of other perspectives on this, as well, so don’t feel like you know the whole story
completely here. With that, all that’s left for me to do is
to thank you for joining us, to wish you safe journeys, happy holidays, and I hope to see
many of you in San Diego for our spring meeting. Thanks for coming.

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