What if This is the Stuff That Lasts?
Why do we spend time doing this sort of thing? Why would a person commit time week in, week out, to the process of blogging, patiently writing short pieces and editing photos so that they can be shared with anyone who might be interested, out there in the ether somewhere?
I suspect that there are many different reasons: maybe you find it a diversion, maybe you hope to develop an audience or market for your talents or products, maybe you just like connecting and communicating with other people. Regardless of your reasons, have you thought about how permanent this might or might not be?
If we talk about the permanence of blog posts, we tend to err on the side of worrying about losing these things. We hear about servers that crash, about data being lost forever, and I know of people who patiently archive everything they produce (yes, I should do that too, and I will . . . when I have the time . . . ).
But is it possible that the permanence of internet content might go the other way? Given the endlessly expanding storage capacity of computer networks, is there some probability that anything we post in this medium might still be available to the world in 50 years, or 100 years, or 1000 years? Is there any chance that the Internet will become like the great library of Alexandria, and that people in a strange far distant future will be able to read the words I am banging out right now?
That is a frightening thought. Being a scientist, there are things I write with the hope that they will be of interest or use to future generations: papers about how fossil corals grew, or the fossil record of jellyfish, or the description of a giant trilobite. Those papers can take many months to prepare, with each word considered and re-considered, each reference checked and re-checked. But what if it turns out that those things have no staying power and are lost, while these little random scrawls are my lasting legacy? Since none of us can predict the future, should we ponder and re-write every piece we post here?
Nah. Let’s just keep throwing stuff at this virtual wall, and see what sticks.
© Graham Young, 2012
The graffiti are courtesy of the folks who have left their marks on the Grand Rapids Uplands and Cormorant Hill roadcuts.