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Friday, October 16, 2009

Google and Sperm Donation

NOTE from Girl Conceived: This was my very first post on the blog.

Most of us can claim a romantic night, a back seat romp or fun times at a concert as the moment we "came to be." But some of us are the product of a premeditated act by two individuals who have never seen each other. We are donor-conceived, born of assisted reproduction. On the surface technology seems to enable us to do a lot these days. We can sit at our computers and do things we would never do in public. We can chat about taboo subjects, explore secret areas of interest, look at porn, and blog about issues we don't want to claim in person. Yet most of this activity is not as anonymous as we think. Cookies, Web histories and behavioral tracking are just a few of the mechanisms out there designed to gather perhaps the most valuable information on the Internet: demographic and consumer data. It's disheartening but not very surprising. All major forms of media have a commercial element that help them to advance and thrive. The Internet is not much different than its predecessors like TV and radio. Ironically there are conception scenarios where far, far less is known.

As the child of a sperm donor and a Mom and Dad that were desperate to have a child, technology plays a somewhat unusual role in my life. As an adult, working in technology and managing it's benefits for corporate gain blurs the lines of my values and beliefs. My mind runs in circles when I put together presentations on "technical solutions" and I contemplate what that terms means to me, the girl conceived by reproductive technology. While technology is typically viewed as the "resolution" to so many problems, for me, it is the root of my most plaguing problems.

The concept I struggle with most often is the ying-to-yang quality of technology.Our smiling faces on Web-sites like FaceBook and MySpace expose our lives, connect and let us be known by the world. Simultaneously, genetic and reproductive technology still operate on foundations of anonymity. Sperm, and eggs are move from one body to another without the receipient knowing the shape of a donor's smile or sometimes even their name. The cells that grow new skin over our wounds or the DNA that architects the scale of our faces can be anonymously delivered via technology.

These are the concepts, ideas and questions that keep me from blissful sleep at night and inspire me to learn, explore and write. For 28 years this has been a personal and private journey but in this age of collaboration and advancement, I wonder if these questions can't be answered using the very source of their conception - technology. And so, I begin that effort today in hopes that our shared conversation can lead us somewhere that makes a bit more sense.

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