Once you air your dirty digital laundry on the public Internet, you can't take it down and fold it and put it away. It is out there forever, accessible by search engines and completely beyond your control. ... Kids who get mad at a teacher and rashly publish a scathing and obscene lampoon on a site like MySpace.com aren't thinking that it could prevent them years hence from getting a scholarship to college or obtaining a job they really want. But this can and has happened.I think we're all aware by now that we need to watch what we post (The Collapse of Inconvenience was in fact one of my first posts on this site), but now a generation of kids face living with a lifelong archival of their history. After reading this I realized that it's bad enough Googling for "Steve Kehlet" yields these awful, nerdy posts from ancient FreeBSD forums (some from over 10 years ago!), but to think what it would turn up if the Internet had come around earlier in my youth, or if Google had archives of old BBS postings. I don't think I've ever put anything too stupid online, but if nothing else these old records are misleading about my current technical skills, or just downright embarrassing. And then... is anything I'm doing now going to embarrass me later? Perhaps it's best that all my posts on various World of Warcraft forums are done with a pseudonym... but still... cross-reference enough and my real name will turn up.
I suppose, while we think twice about everything we publicly post, and advise our children to do the same, something we need to always realize is that Googling isn't always accurate... I'm not the person I was 10 years ago, neither is anyone else.