Memories, as we all know, are unreliable. They can be manipulated easily, by external forces. They can be easily forgotten only to be half-remembered, often in a different form. And two people can exhibit different memories for the exact same experience.

These are some of the criticisms I’ve received since I started My Earliest Memory project back in September 2011. And they are probably right, although it mattered as little to me then as it does now – and it certainly doesn’t detract from the main purpose of the project.

So, why am I mentioning an old project?

Well, it ties into the thought I had while listening to Andrew Keen’s talk, Digital Vertigo – the idea that data can have a half-life.

Of course, this ties into the very nature of memories. I’m surprised I didn’t see it before.

Now, some memories you’d love to preserve for time immemorial. Others you’d like to bury. Some – and this is the crux of my current thinking on memories and personal data – you’d like to manipulate, to change, as if it were an old memory embellished by events or conversations that happened at a later date. Data degradation has been a topic of discussion for some time and it isn’t going to go away.

Rather than degrade, could your data, personal to you, be seen differently by others, even if they were there when the data was created and collected? In essence: could you have data that changed according to who was looking at it and the perspective they may have of the person to whom that data belonged?

To further simplify it: can I create one piece of data and allow it to present itself in a variety of different ways dependent upon who asks to see it? Can some bits fade, while other parts shine? Can they behave more like memories?

And could this be the reputation management of the future?