On The Wall Street Journal, Farhad Manjoo argues that although "Snapchat, like all new services, is still more likely to fail than prosper," it is probably "the most important technology of 2013."
Yet, even if it fails, Snapchat will have been one of the most fascinating services to hit the Internet in years. To me, the app's exploding popularity suggests that society is yearning for a new way to think about data. Snapchat is one of the first mainstream services to show us that our photos and texts don't need to stick around forever: that erasing all the digital effluvia generated by our phones and computers can be just as popular a concept as saving it.
If the Snapchat model takes offif other sites and services began to promote the idea of erasability as a competitive featurethe Internet would look very different from the Internet of today. It would be a more private network, one without the constant worry of every ill-considered picture or thought being held up for ridicule by the whole world, forever. But it also might be a less useful Internet, a network on which you couldn't look up an old photo every time you felt nostalgic, or where computers wouldn't always feed you suggestions based on your history, since your history wouldn't be complete.
Do we want to live on that Erasable Internet, the Snapchat Internet, instead of the Internet built by Facebook and Google?
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