The Always On Impact: Our Digital Selves in an Interconnected World

Jul 30, 2014 5:52am

The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) recently held the first event in a series that tackles various aspects of our digital lives, focusing on emerging technologies and the transformation of traditional industries through technology and data. This series asks participants to consider the ways that being “always on” impacts us and how we relate to each other.

One of the more fascinating data points came from presenter Patrick Tucker, whose book, The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move?, examines how big data and analysis changes the way we learn and live. According to Tucker, more than 90 percent of the data that has ever existed was created in the last two to three years, and the amount of digital information is continuing to increase at rapid rates as we become more connected to our computers, smartphones and tablets.

The digital information generated by our use of technology can reveal a lot about how we live our day-to-day offline lives. For example, Tucker cited a recent study that collected 300 days of GPS readings from participants and used them to predict where subjects would be 80 weeks in advance with 80 percent accuracy. According to Tucker, while many people and news outlets highlight the downsides of big data, many positives come from the information our devices tell us about ourselves, such as the ability to determine whether one would regret making a purchase in the future or how one’s interactions could affect their happiness or relationships.

Following the series kickoff, event attendees and a panel of technology, policy and privacy experts had a great discussion about the implications of an “always on” world and potential policy solutions could help protect individuals’ information and privacy. Additionally, participants discussed how parents and educators can teach young people to interact safely with one another and their devices online.

Staying Safe in an “Always On” World
CDT is taking a leadership role in tackling the ramifications of our “Always On” world, and CEO Nuala O’Connor sheds more light on series in her blog. For more information on the Center for Democracy & Technology and to sign up for CDT events, visit

As our world becomes more interconnected, learning how to stay safe online becomes a case of continuing education to stay ahead of the curve.  Part of protecting yourself and your information is being aware of what is collected about you and how it is used. One way to won your online presence is through the your privacy settings for the devices and applications that you use. If you want to check or update your privacy settings, visit for a one-stop shop of instructions.

NCSA also provides a variety of Internet safety and security tips for adults looking to encourage children to be good digital citizens at