Some folks are now using tiny USB flash-memory sticks. I see 1-gigabyte
sticks out there for less then $100. 4 GB sticks will set you back $500 at
this moment in time. Who doubts that the price will decline dramatically, with
the memory capacity rising exponentially? We already knew about "smart
business cards" with RFID (radio frequency identification) chips in them.
Upscale businessmen exchange business contact information by merging them in a
portable card-data hub.
These flash memory USB devices are only an inch or so long. I’ve seen work
colleagues carry them around on necklaces like pendants, and use them very
productively. I even see them now in watches, with a USB connector line
embedded in the wristband. More recently, they’ve come out with
battery-powered units to transfer files from one USB drive to another, sans
computer. Just a tiny black box, smaller than a pack of cigarettes. Plug one
memory stick in one side, and another memory stick in the other, and you can
manage all the data transfer you want to have. With a PDA installed, you could
see all that data.
Let’s half-close our eyes and imagine a future scenario. Not too awfully
distant from now. You and I have a mega-terabyte flash memory device
containing all relevant information about us: all our computer files, records
of all our websurfing, all our consumer credit transactions. All our medical,
DMV, police and legal records. A log of all our physical movements, recorded
and downloaded dutifully by intelligence sensors at every streetcorner. All
our cellphone calls. The history of every TV show we’ve watched, or movie
we’ve seen. Every music CD we’ve ever listened to. Our entire credit history.
Our medical records, drug prescriptions, lab test results. Financial holdings,
debts and assets, bank accounts and transactions. All our emails, and a
complete log of the time we’ve spent on our PCs. Our library card loans. The
things we buy at the grocery store. Our bar tabs and concert tickets, with the
liquor and shows catalogued. The gas we buy, the brand of cigarettes we smoke,
the amount and type of pet food we bring home, the results of our daily blood
What is on those memory sticks is the ultimate, undeniable truth about us.
Yours on your stick, and mine on mine.
Now let’s invent a little game, here. We’re sitting at a bar. Let’s plug
both of our memory sticks into a transfer hub. How much of yourself do you
dare to divulge to me? What kind of value do you wish to put on our
relationship? Are you afraid or ashamed of something in your life that may
repulse me? Do you assign certain things about yourself that are "none of my
business"? Or do you present yourself openly and honestly for my inspection,
to accept or reject as I will? Do you effect a data transfer, but withhold
certain information, with some files tagged as "locked"? And wait for me to
divulge more to you, before unlocking those files? What if I went ahead and
streamed the entirety of my private and public life right through the hub to
you, carte blanche? Do you weigh my life’s sins -- or vapidity, as the
case may be -- against yours before replying? Do you then take my e-soul -- in
horror, perhaps, or with the tools to potentially destroy me -- and run away?
Or do you divulge yourself in kind with no questions asked, with no
If you do accept all of me as I am, and give me all of you in
return, then I am for you. And forever will be. There is nothing you can want
that I will not try to help you have. You and I are bonded for life, as close
as two humans can ever be, closer than blood-brothers.
But in truth, we don’t really need a memory stick to make that happen.
Back to Essays...