Not So Fleeting Anymore

This is an pretty old post from my blog, which has been preserved in case its content is of any interest. You might want to go back to the homepage to see some more recent stuff.

I took my first faltering steps “online” in the mid-90s, courtesy of Trumpet Winsock under Windows 3.1, followed by AOL’s UK Games Chat, doubtless a gateway drug to the life of Usenet and IRC that followed; hoping and pleading that my parents wouldn’t pick up the phone and hear the telltale 14.4 kilobit buzzing that gave away my illicit internet usage.

Trumpet Winsock

Isn’t “going online” such a strange notion now, when “offline” is only achieved by bloggers camping in the woods as a publicity stunt; a week without the internet in exchange for their fifteen seconds of internet fame?

Everything I did online in those days, everything I was, is long gone now. IRC logs lost to formatted hard drives; Usenet posts beyond any server’s retention time; my background-MIDI hell of a website that probably died with Geocities. But since the turn of the millennium, something has been happening – the internet is less fleeting; more permanent. The blog was on the rise.

It was a little over ten years ago that I penned this waste of the English language, which has survived a trip from a website of my own concoction, through LiveJournal and Drupal to where it now rests as the oldest entry that has made it to my current blog. (Sadly, I cannot say the same for the HTML formatting or the image to which it once linked.) The follies of my youth (at least, from age 16 onwards) are now preserved for the world to see.

The eighteen-year-old spouting bad philosophy. The nineteen-year-old who wanted to be a child forever. The twenty-year-old that saw himself though the eyes of characters he played. The twenty-one-year-old that thought he’d be with his friends forever, and the twenty-two-year-old that started to realise he wouldn’t. The twenty-four-year-old who geeked out, the twenty-five-year-old that got political, and the twenty-six-year-old who overanalyses his son’s questions.

Nothing is deleted anymore, nothing lost to history. Those thoughts that I don’t commit to bloggery, Twitter and Facebook keep for posterity or for marketing potential.

It’s mostly the kind of detail nobody will ever want to know about my life, and briefly, I considered deleting most of it – the personal stuff, at least.

But as I considered it, walking home in the dark, I passed the nursing home that advertises “a special neighbourhood for the memory impaired”. Should I ever get to that point, and should my family not follow my explicit instructions to pack me off to Dignitas the minute I become a burden on them, I can’t think of a better way to hold onto my memories than to have them accessible and searchable from wherever I may be.

Every scrap of drama, every bawling whinge, every pointless meme and every political diatribe made me who I am today, and someday I may be grateful to read it all again.

(Though seriously, I have posted a ton of crap over the years. Man, I should never have been allowed on LiveJournal.)


please don't regret any of it. I still miss live journal. also, wtf did all the ... less public parts of the internet go? its gotten kind of sparin recently.

To be honest the opposite worries me a little; having so much of this content online places responsibility for preserving it in the hands of someone else's servers. If Livejournal were to disappear tomorrow, I'd lose 6 years of my journal. That's not great (and probably a sign that I should really get around to doing a backup). As a serial pack-rat not much of my stuff has been lost to time, I still have diaries and drawings from 1993, but virtual content stored online is another matter.

aefaradien: I think Search and marketing together probably tend to kill of non-public parts of the internet. If you want to be found, you've got to be on Google -- word of mouth doesn't cut it anymore.

Psyfira: Regular backups are your friend! All my hosted files and databases are backed up weekly, mailbox synced via IMAP every 10 minutes, etc. :) LiveJournal can certainly be exported, though I'm not sure how easy it would be to set up an automated backup. I'd back up Twitter and Facebook too, if only there was some way of restoring from the backups in the event of server-side data loss.

eldritchreality 12 November 2011

That's one of the most interesting points I've yet heard about the long term utility of the internet.

It's certainly given me an insight into the value of my livejournal that I didn't have before.

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