Brian Maki’s “Little Black Book” offers a common sense approach to dealing with the difficulties that technology has introduced into our lives. As a computer instructor and consultant for more than twenty years, Maki has seen how technology has made rapid changes in our lives to the point where we are addicted to being “connected” constantly, feel a lack of patience when we aren’t connected, and have been bombarded with spam email, computer frustrations, and worst of all, the threat of identity theft.
The book’s title refers to the need for us to keep track of our digital life through a non-digital, old-fashioned means-preferably a paper book in which we write all our usernames and passwords, along with keeping a record of any changes we make to our accounts. While Maki also admits a flash drive can serve this purpose, he cautions that flash drives are subject to viruses themselves, and keeping track of passwords on a computer leaves them available to hackers and viruses.
Through numerous short, concise chapters, Maki explains the concerns we all must have about leaving behind our digital footprint. He advocates regularly “googling ourselves,” how to upgrade regularly so we have less headaches down the road, how to deal with junk email, the added dangers to identity theft if you have a cell phone, and the real power that social networking sites have over our lives, and how we can protect ourselves from the information such sites are collecting about us.
But what sets this book apart the most is that it ties in with the significance of end-of-life planning. After telling the story of William Weber, a man whom Maki helped to organize his digital life before his death, Maki highlights how few of us think about what will happen to our digital life and online identity after we have died. He offers practical advice for monitoring our digital life and planning for closing out accounts to protect against identity theft even after our deaths.
This short book is valuable for focusing on a subject most people never think about. Maki covers numerous topics that will result in helping us to protect our identities, our possessions, our freedom, and overall, our happiness. As Maki states:
“You must reexamine how you interact with the Internet, what you share, why you share it, and learn never to follow the path of Internet trust again. It is your digital life to control.”
As Maki points out, technology is going to be with us for the rest of our lives-it’s not going away-so we actively must learn to control it and protect ourselves from it, putting it in its proper place as necessary only to help us, rather than letting it continue to control our lives. I certainly feel the importance of this need, and I hope other readers will as well.