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Privacy Perspectives | Did Andy Warhol Get It Wrong? Related reading: Benchmarking a global privacy culture


We have a framed New Yorker cartoon above our candy machine here in our IAPP office. Above the seriously tempting Skittles and M&Ms hangs an image of a businessman and a fortune teller with the caption, “In the future, everyone will have privacy for fifteen minutes.”

We could also say it this way, “In the future, everyone will have anonymity for fifteen minutes.”

It’s beginning to look like the future is now.

This point is illustrated in a recent TED Talk by Juan Enriquez with the obvious combination of Big Data, tattoos, immortality, the Ancient Greeks…and, of course, Jorge Luis Borges:

That threat of immortality could be a good thing or a bad thing. Will we regret the decisions made earlier in our lives that are tattooed to our digital selves?


Will those digital tattoos provide us with a lifetime of stories worth sharing? Or can our digital footprint help us get healthier?

Earlier this week  I stumbled upon a group called the Quantified Self. They are doing really cool things with data to help lead healthy lifestyles. Next week they will host a conference in Amsterdam with breakout sessions on things like: The Self in Data; On Sleep Tracking, and Tracking Breathing as a Unifying Experience.

As we move toward using more wearable devices that are connected to the Internet, even more personal data will migrate to the cloud, covering ourselves with even more digital tattoos.

And with that, our “fifteen minutes” of anonymity may steadily decrease—for better or worse.


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