Illustration for article titled Will Your Facebook Page Resemble These Antique Report Cards in 80 Years?

This is the 1930 report card of Marie Garaventa. It has her academic evaluations, performance, and even a detailed history of the places she worked after she graduated. It's whimsical and nostalgic and wonderfully voyeuristic. And in another 80 years, it might resemble all the data you store (and that's stored about you) online.


The report cards are from the Manhattan Trade School for Girls, and Paul Lukas found a cache of about 400 of them back in 1996. They're mainly from the 1920s and 30s, and contain a pretty astonishing amount of information about the students. Lukas has been contacting the families over the years, and most have been fascinated to learn what's on the report cards he found in a box labeled "THROW OUT!" at the site of the old school.

But it's a little weird that the school kept such detailed records of its alumni's lives, right? The dossier on Ms. Garaventa, for example, includes more than a dozen post-graduate jobs, and "that at one point she was scolded for not returning to a job after her lunch break." I'm sure that at the time the documents were as secure as they needed to be (in a cabinet! with a lock!), but technology has since outmoded that, and time's made it a non-issue. And eventually the same thing will probably happen to all the 256-bit-encoded secrets and accounts.


This isn't to sound alarmist or make a stink about the sliding scale of our online privacy. I'm just wondering what it'll look like when our version of Paul Lukas's report cards are eventually dug up, and if the digital version will feel as whimsical as these. [Slate]

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