Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Designing to Forget

The internet has a funny way of remembering things forever. I've been really careful about what I write here, because I don't know what's going to happen to the content down the road. It's a problem that I don't know how to deal with. Take the gay marriage issue, for example. I'm terribly tired of talking about it, but I'm also not satisfied with any of my posts on the subject. I'd like to simply remove those posts, or at least continue to write follow-ups. The former strategy is rather un-bloglike, and the latter simply makes me dig into a deeper hole. I cringe at the thought of what might have happened if I had started blogging 10 years ago, in my university years. Would my thoughts still be indexed somewhere by Google? Does the internet really remember everything people say? Today, the answer is mostly yes. I predict that a lot of people (especially bloggers) are going to work themselves into personal PR nightmares over the next few years. Not fully grasping the permanence of the internet, they'll spend their youths and early twenties generating content that embarrasses them for years into the future. But maybe that's part of the point -- why the blogging medium is so great to begin with. We all come from an era (and mindset) where information was very carefully controlled -- network news, company communications, politics, even music & arts. There's a lot of filters to make sure anything potentially embarrassing will never get out. As for me, I'm still too afraid to sign my name to my own blog. But really, would signing my name make the blog any better? I'd argue that you (the reader) don't really care who I am. Hopefully you're interested in my thoughts, and that's the point of all this. Still, it would be nice if the internet could be told to forget things, not simply remember everything.