Why do we continue to look to technology to save us from social failings


image - http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/mar/09/ukcrime-facebook

The response from Facebook to the tragic story of Ashleigh Hall today highlights a growing sense of unease about a digital world.  I am under no illusion that education and care play an important, if not critical, part in protecting those who will inherit our digital present. 

In the opening to my book I said that a “digital footprint” is like marmite; some like it and some don’t.  Reading the responses to the Ashleigh Hall story, it is clear that this is a sane view. Facebook and other social network supporters are out in strength and waving the banners about benefits and this is contrasted with the stark reality from others who have been harmed and violated.  There is common ground about education and ensuring that you follow well published and sensible guide lines about your information and how to behave.  

I am however worried about the view that somehow we should look to processes and technology to save us from our social failing and responsibility.  Technology, be it a knife, car, laser, stun gun, pepper spray, Facebook or mobile can be used in anyway that the holder of the technology sees fit.  Processes are unfortunately only as good as the people who run them.  We can clearly see how technology can make it easier, both to commit crime and solve crime, but neither bring accountability or responsibility.

Digital footprint data, if you opt in can deliver reputation and other benefits, but this digital world suffers from the same real issues as our physical life, some decide to opt out, lie and deceive.  We have been unable to solve the real, so why should a single button solve the digital?