Data Cleaners for Hire. No Questions Asked.
Wednesday’s lunch break is something special, isn’t it? There’s nothing like the feeling of gliding toward the weekend, letting gravity fight your battles for you. Or so they say. I don’t exactly have weekends in my profession.
I still have Wednesdays, though, and during those lovely middle moments I like to order an old-world sandwich from my neighborhood's 21st Century Café and look up at Metadome-P for a while. The underbelly is a web of sacred geometry hovering overhead, its purified air always blowing through at the right temperature. Our UVB bulbs were at their peak of the season, which made my head hurt if I looked too long. Closing my eyes, I felt the dome’s comforting geodesic lines embossed onto my retinas. The pattern gradually faded, along with my waking mind.
– NOTIFICATION –
That didn’t last long. Curators are always on call, I suppose – and I couldn’t expect a rest until I hit my quota for this UVB cycle. The sub-corneal notification system was irritating at first, but it sure is efficient. I kept my eyes shut as I read the job summary. It wasn’t optional, as always.
– NEW CLIENT: P-36, C1 TIER CURATION REQUESTED –
Dome module P-36 was at least a 20 minute commute this time of day. Being in the same Metadome, my ride was already on its way. A minute and thirty seconds later, I sat down in my ride’s surprisingly firm single mycelium seat. I guess the new MycoCart designers paid attention to user feedback after all. I looked into the client case with my left eye as the cart chugged along:
– NEW CLIENT: P-36, C1 TIER CURATION REQUESTED –
––– KELMS, PETER S.;
–––– 49, MALE;
––––– MYCOFAB II;
––––– 300∆ EST/ANNUAL;
––––– DOME MODULE P-36G
Peter, okay. It always helped to have a name. I was eager to see what Peter had to offer. He went with the C1 tier: The Economic Choice. This made sense given his annual income and occupation as a mycocomposite engineer. It was honest work, but not glamorous. Maybe he helped build this MycoCart? I tried my best to avoid the thought.
I arrived at Peter’s home, module 36G. His panes were upgraded, giving Peter one of the few translucent domes in P-36. I bet his neighbors envied him, cursing under their breath when they scanned into their singularly opaque or transparent domes. I stepped up to Peter’s iris scan station:
–ACCESS GRANTED – as always.
Peter was a tasteful decorator. He had an old-world Kandinsky print above his desk with what looked like home-grown mycelium vases on his bookshelves. He was also quite the model citizen by the looks of his kitchen. Inside of a 4’x8’ interior greenhouse, he was working on a surplus food supply. The shelves were lined with boxes of high-density leafy greens and amino acid-reinforced mushrooms growing on sawdust and used coffee grounds. This food was slated for donation within P-35-37, each of which had recently experienced shortages. This was intended as an anonymous endeavor of course, but not for long.
It didn’t take long for me to find Peter’s vices, too. Some low-tier gambling here, crypto paystubs from illicit chatrooms there, with plenty of old-world liquor and modern chemical enhancers on his cluttered desk. Nothing I hadn’t seen before. Peter seemed like a good guy, at least by my limited standards. Flawed, sure, but still human. I sat with this thought for a quarter of a second, as always, and got to work. It was time to clean up.
My parent firm specializes in C1-3 Data Curation. It’s my job to collect, analyze, distribute, and destroy personal data once a client expires. It’s a tedious job, really, which is why families rarely handle it themselves. Family-led curation fell out of fashion in the early 21st century once enough grieving friends and family members had seen things they wished they hadn’t. Ignorance is bliss, especially when the future is irredeemable. So, Peter had written in his will that he entrusted me, C107A, as his personal data Curator. I was honored, as always.
I accessed the dome’s core CPU, – GRANTED – and began downloading the data aggregate for KPS_P-36G, years 2097-2156. Every message, formal complaint, simulation game, hologram call and light switch command was accounted for. There were 59 years of habits, friendships, and stories hidden in this dome, and I was tasked to make sense of it all. Knowing the download would take a while – between 5.2 and 5.45 minutes – I strolled around his space and began to think.
I wondered what Peter’s friends would like to see on his highlight reel.
Post-download, I unearthed a few gems right away. I decided to include some thoughtful conversations he’d had with a troubled classmate back in school. He really was an excellent listener. He was also quite the trumpet player back in the day, so I added some of those clips for variety. There would be plenty to sift through on the ride home, and I’d make sure to find all of the good parts. Peter’s digital footprint began in a climate-controlled tube, only to end as a few cubic feet of soil 59 years later. Although it was short, his life still created too much data for any human to make sense of. That’s a perk of being semi-artificial: being able to understand a lifetime in a cab ride.
Peter's highlight reel - KPS_P36G.reel - will be distributed to friends and loved ones at the going away party. It will show the top 10 percent of his life in its absolute best light. The client’s memory will live for as long as the recipient wants KPS_P36G.reel taking up valuable space on their personal server. The average reel lasts six and a half years before moving into cold storage or being deleted altogether, but we’d never tell our clients about that. Unsurprisingly, influential clients have their reels preserved in museums, universities and cathedrals. For Peter, KPS_P36G.reel will be given to a select few of his loved ones, exactly as he’d requested. Meanwhile, every trace of his drunken fights, gambling debts, drug use and sexual deviance will be scrubbed clean from the Metadome servers forever. No questions asked.
Not long ago, we would embalm our dead and parade them around in makeup after they'd died. Friends and family would gather and pretend not to notice the unpleasant realities of death: preferring paper thin veneers of beauty, sterility, and morality. Things aren’t so different now. Although we use the bodies for agricultural bio-materials like soil and mycelium substrate, the reflex is the same – ignorance is bliss.
As the translucent door closed behind me I took a deep breath of our Metadome's cool, rarified air. The fractal sky was a few shades darker as the UVB bulbs began their dusk sequence. Our servers are a few hundred terabytes lighter tonight, an opening in bandwidth which subtly announces itself behind my own eyes. Peter's body has turned to soil, the bulk of his life’s footprint dissolving to make room for another.