I haven't read the book by Robert J Sawyer (in fact, the s.f. books I have read in the last 30 years would make a good post), but I heard him talk about it on DNTO last week. The gist is that in this parallel world all humans have a black box implanted in their wrist. The data it emits is stored on a server run by what seems to be a benevolent dictatorship -- other individuals can't access this data, but the government can use it to hold people fully accountable for their actions.
It would seem that Facebook Beacon, which publishes your actions on participating partners outside Facebook into your Facebook feed, is a step in this direction. I can only say, about time. I'm looking forward to the day when everyone with a wireless-net-enabled device can participate as a Beacon publisher.
I'll be able to follow the feeds of my friends to see not only what they ate for breakfast, but also if they remembered to put the recyclables in the blue box, how much did they give the street person busking outside the skytrain station, who's cheating on their diet, and who's cheating on their spouse.
Some people say Facebook is the new AOL, but AOL never came up with this great idea.