Technology Never Forgets

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Draftback is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to watch every keystroke of every revision made to a Google Doc played back to you, opening up a new way to study how writers write. Chadwick Matlin at FiveThirtyEight tried the extension, however, and he sees a dark side:

Embedded in Draftback’s ingenuity is also a certain kind of inevitability: that writing, like any commodity, is at the mercy of a technology that never forgets.

[Its creator] has laid out the utopian case for what that can mean: People learn how to write in a way they never could before. But there’s a dystopian one, too. Because of the way Draftback works, anybody with editing rights to a Google Doc can see that document’s past.


Claire Burgess’s short fiction has appeared in Third Coast, Hunger Mountain, and PANK online, among others. Her stories have received special mentions in the Pushcart Prize and Best American anthologies, but haven’t actually made it into one yet. She’s a graduate of the Vanderbilt University MFA program, where she co-founded Nashville Review. She lives in Pittsburgh by way of the deep South and says things on Twitter @Clairabou_. More from this author →