Thank God!


According to Summers, we’re entering the Golden Age of the Sex Scandal. His evidence:

The evidence in the new generation of sex scandals has been compiled by the protagonists themselves, in the form of text messages, voice mails, IMs, e-mails, and cell-phone pictures that one party, usually the less powerful one, has squirreled away. Digital communications are tough to avoid or erase, and they’re easy to archive as text, audio, or video. Text messages in particular are “the new lipstick on the collar,” says The New York Times, in a piece describing how SMS evidence has driven the Tiger Woods case and everyday divorces alike.

Now, when a former mayor gets into trouble for a relationship with a campaign aide, we get to hear the actual voice mails he left the woman. When a congressman crosses the line with his young pages, we get the  actual transcripts [PDF] of their instant-message conversations. When a married governor decides that an Argentine woman is his soulmate and pretends to be on the Appalachian Trail while he visits her, we get their actual heartfelt e-mails. I don’t know about you, but as a scholar of the tawdry, I find the prospect of working with primary documents exhilarating.

Technology keeps us honest.

For an in depth story about how difficult it is to be anonymous in a digital age, see the latest Wired cover story.