or, The Future History of the Triumph of Persistence over Pseudo-pseodonymity
In my twenties, I threw my two cents into a discussion on computerized trading. The year was 1986, and the venue was the Risks Digest. Google was more than a decade in the future. It was a spur-of-the-afternoon comment on my part, and probably reflected my naivete of how stock markets actually worked more than anything else. What's interesting to me is that by 2000, this was the top bit of information that Google knew about me, and remained so for a couple years.
The internet is slowly erasing the venues where ephemeral forms of communication can take place. I had no realization in 1986 that my words would be readable (if they cared) by a huge fraction of the world's population today. I'm not claiming that any harm has come to me, but I find this fact mildly surprising. Today's kids seem at peace with this. Googling your date is acceptable, and you expect potential dates to google you in turn. Even still, kids like Laura K Pahl, and even the initial author who blogged about her, can be quite surprised when the internet tunes in to a conversation thought to contain only a couple or a couple dozen participants.
Okay, time for a change of topic. Let's talk about MMOs and virtual worlds.
Some people say that virtual worlds can provide a place to explore identity. They seem safe, and pseudonymous. Over the last few years, I enjoyed my virtual life as a virtual businesswoman, hard-nosed and avaricious. Oh, and my other life as an inept womanizer. I was a not-so-teenage virtual transient, spending a few months in one pseudonymous identity or another. They've been fun, but I'd just as soon keep their identities separate from my own.
But instead, I predict a future where  public chat from virtual worlds will be as available on the net as my 1986 Risks missive, and  where the analysis tools to link pseudonymous identities will be widely available. As to persisting public chat, I'm actually rather dumbfounded that Google is currently aware of zero occurrences of "WoWChatLog.txt" on the net. And one could even make an argument that post-WoW games may not provide the convenient chat logging or game API that Blizzard has provided, but if the player is able to access the information on his game screen, eventually there will be enough reason to scrape and persist the data. I'm less certain about analysis tools to link pseudonymous identities. Certainly, this is a harder problem, and will take longer, but people are already creating increasingly subtle ways to extract information from the www bit-bucket, like Googlism, Unsafe Google, or Google Trends. But even if it takes 20 years or more, there will be people who will wince at having their current sexcapades or Orgrimmar tirades linked to whoever they have become by that time.
On the other hand, maybe in 2026 I'll come across this post using some technology invented a decade from now, and will chuckle at my naivete about pseodonymity and the persistence of MMO communications.
What think you?