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February 10, 2007

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It's time for a new enterprise - call it Soylent Bits. We take the digital logorrhea of Mr. Winer and other immortals and transform their every word into 10' Inscriptions Upon Italian Marble. This could take a lot of marble, so we'll contract to deconstruct ineffecient cathedrals and naughty old statues. When the work is completed, the entire marmoreal payload will be launched into orbit at exorbitant expense. The body of the deceased blogger can be encased within the blog entry of his or her choice for a small additional fee. Space tourists will read Dave on their way to the stars, and thank their friends at Soylent Bits.

Sounds like a job for Halliburton.

You and the Doctor may make light of the need or desirability of a perpetual archive of blogspace (or wikispace or many other content repositories), but it is an important issue. At the very least, sociologists and archeologists would find even the most self-absorbed subspaces of great value.

For myself, I am concerned for the fate of the WB archives. I hope that even for content that you have not been able to fully revive on-line, you have tried to keep whatever piles of bits you have. Even without the original tools to decode these caches of old bits, there are forensic processes that can attempt to reconstruct them.

Friends of ours are working on being able to grab whole websites in their presentation form (HTML) and make them editable in place (or not with appropriate controls). The past of WB will rise again.

How about the Wayback Machine? Does that not preserve the old archives? The early days of WB are lost, but in those days we had a process of editing a post over and over until it became a "story" in Radio. The stories were aphorisms. I did cull those down into "Bound, Beaten, and Branded, Selected Aphorisms of the Happpy Tutor," which has been reposted. The whole issue of what "constitutes the Text" comes into this. Do we include the bits pared away on purpose?

The discussion kept at the old Radio server from the early days were lost. That is too bad, since they were not mine, I was just the inept custodian.

I guess what I am wondering is who makes the call as to what should be "forever." Are we doomed to being seen in perpetuity and judged by the random junk we write on any given day? Will it always come back to haunt us, do what we will? Or, would it not be best to let it decay unless specifically preserved with the author's permission?

What makes this tricky is that the web is a conversation. The links and discussions are integral to it, so letting the web of old posts decay, upsets a social good, as well as the author's "private property" and personal reputation.

WB went through 3 iterations, the first at MyGiftCoach.org. That I burned down on purpose when it came to the attention of those in authority above me. The second I destroyed through ineptitude. If Spectacular Bondage at MyGiftCoach.org could be recovered in its totality and republished by your friends, would that require, in your view, my permission? Legally, no, but morally?

In short, does or should an author to the web have the right to delete? (Let alone the ability.) What if I am told by Candidia that I either delete all or get fired? What you are suggesting is that this would be impossible. Having written in haste something hurtful to me or others, even slanderous, or something that might provoke legal retribution, I am stuck with it? So, that each word should be weighed since it may come back to haunt oneself for all time? Even stuff you write drunk?

Deep questions and interesting dialog, I hope others will join in. On "Meet the Press" this morning, their roundtable of jouralists was discussing the Libby trial and the implications for journalism as they watch their colleagues called to testify about differences from their notes to their recollections. Some saying that they now have a practice of destroying all their notes.

What I am suggesting is several things. First, as the proprietor of websites, only you can preserve the original bits generated by the application by backing them up or having a trusted friend archive them. History will still intervene and make it hard for a scholar of 2570 to reconstruct even the digital conversations, much less the social and cultural environment in which all of this happened (as it is still happening now and will be in 2570 (if we don't blow it up first)). You don't have to keep them public. Whether their is any writing of note, history to be preserved or legal liabilities in that first site you voluntarily burned down, you could have preserved the bits on a private disk or external media, and then you would still be able to decide whether to share them with the public, leave them with your effects, deposit them with an archivist and so on.

If all of the artifacts that contain a symbolic work, a text or really any creative work are destroyed, there is no possibility of recovering that work of creation. Like a species lost to extinction it may not even leave fossils. On the other hand, all of that history still survives in the living work of WB. I would err on the side of keeping things that appear useless and let the future decide which artifacts are worth further investigation. You may well have a few piles of bits that represent some of those early conversations stashed away even if you have not way to view the contents. Someone else now or in the future might.

Turning back to the question of having ones works in progress preserved. I find this to be a matter of courage of the artist. If you worry about whether the next work will be an embarrassment to you someday, you will never write or create anything. It is the future interpreter's problem to properly distinguish the process from the final product. It is helpful also to future students to see historical genius in an immature and incomplete form. It is selfish to intentionally deny these flows of text to the future to save face for ourselves. The greater embarrassment is not to have done it, or to fall short because we lacked the courage to start for fear of what someone might say about our failed attempts.

Maybe he should pay for hosting mine forever too.

As if. Dave is always whining about how people never pay him enough ... respect. And I suspect he will be doing so forever. A lot is never enough for him, and he does have a lot of respect out there in spite of himself (as he does regularly embarrasses himself, which he may not recognize).

When our entire lives are under surveillance, immortality has less of a lure to me. Forgetfullness seems like a mercy, clemency. Horace said that poet should keep a work for nine years before publishing. Do we want our every blurb preserved for its purposive communicative meaning, or as "evidence," to be read by professors of forensic hermeneutics, as a physician reads symptoms of a disease? To be read as a "sign of the times," as a "for instance," is not something for which I would want to pay server fees or to preserve stray notes offline.

Maintaining your web presence beyond your demise, if that is important to you, should be provided for in your estate plan.

Yes, indeed. And how will that be done, 19? Do you have a service that can be sold to the executor? Do you work for a mortuary firm? This could be like a perpetual flame, maybe? I would think a life insurance policy would also be a good move, with the benefit dedicated to keeping the blog online forever?

Some of this discussion recalls topics that came alive at the point that Invisible Adjunct pulled the plug. Tutor, I seem to remember your interest and thoughtfulness in that wayback time. It seems far, now.

Let's not dwell on the irony of Mr. Winer working out the specifics of his immortality after ensuring the untimely demise of numerous blogs on his Manila operation. As I recall, he pulled the plug on everyone he hosted without consulting their interest in continuity, let alone immortality.

I would imagine someone with the proper amount of technical knowledge can hazard a guess about whether any of the current code Mr. Winer is worried about preserving ad saecula saeculorum can be expected to survive upheavals that will undoubtedly occur to the technology itself. By 2570, I'd think we'll be so bonded (bondaged) with storage as to be unable to tell where "JJ" ends and "Dave Winer" begins.

Thank you for the reminder, Dr. Yes, there was a good discussion of immortality when IA shut down her blog, then brought it back up. And I remember very well how stoical you were when Mr. Winer, pleading necessity, unilaterally shut down his free Manila service. Ah, what memories! Isn't that the best kind of immortality, shared stories told and repeated among friends and fellow sufferers? Immortality is a theme that unites literary theory, poetry, legacy planning and philanthropy and blogging. I always find it almost amusing. Our egos are so frail. Life slips away, post by post. Isn't it enough that for these moments we had a chance to huddle together and talk of the passing scene?

I have no forwarding address. My blog and I will fall through the cracks. Used to be that fame was of utmost importance. Now I prefer anonymity.

When Kafka died, he left instructions for his friend, Max Brod, to burn his manuscripts. Inconsiderate bastard.

March 13 2003

BUM 1:

Once, stoop-sitting with a new buddy in the neighborhood, I offered that:

-- I had had more opportunity in my lifetime than most, felt grateful for it, regretted nothing, desired to live it not again, and was enjoying the beer.

-- The journey of salmon back upriver to spawn was "noble", notwithstanding those many beaten on the rocks to ragged skeletons aimlessly wiggling, nor those batted by grizzlies, skinned alive and left on banks to quiver, nor those never strong enough to surmount the first step. They were all, in sum and individually, "noble", and I would proudly join their ranks.

-- I, my self, did not matter a whit. The evidence was overwhelming.

His eyes brightened during the course of this with something very like respect, probably responding to the stout-fueled earnestness. Then he disagreed. Said that he was born and bred the rugged individualist, was generally repelled by formal groups and group actions, was determined to make his unique mark, and did not see his view changing as he aged. He seemed just a very little sad about it. But just a very little. He was faintly smiling.

There were any number of seconds where we both hunkered in the weight of our lives collected there on the pavement, the stoop, the cement. The pause was the stuff of our kinship. It went on.

"Cheers," I said. No matter. I thought we could still be friends.

BUM 2:

Wonderful! "The stuff of kinship," indeed. And, yes, we are sitting on the stoop, talking big. "Cheers," Bum 1, to you too.

BUM 3:

cheers, yes cheers, the stout is fine, the friendship stout, and we might stoop beneath the push of our desires that socializes emergence, the disparate yoke in which our dispersal pulls our difference to bicker, but no, well say cheers to that

William Blake - Auguries of Innocence

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.

A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all Heaven in a rage.
A dove house fill'd with doves and pigeons
Shudders Hell thro' all its regions.
A dog starv'd at his master's gate
Predicts the ruin of the state...

ain't blogging, and blog-commenting, cool ?

.. from hosting for eternity to posting for eternity, from bits to Blake.

Ya gotta dig it, sometimes ;-)

Especially when you can call a spade a spade.

We have our moments here. We must be very exasperating to the normals.

What's a normal?

The ones who call us weird.

there's two reactions to winer's shutdown. one's from people who blooged who ambitted to be "bloggers" - writing like. that would be hostill reaction due to thwarted grapho ambits. Then there was teh people who just bloggered, with casual imperative - talking like. They would be like, ok, dude, SNAFU, we relly got some stug off our chest, but I can understand howd you'd rather just relax on your couchTV and fest on a bowl of nachos smothered in turbid velveeta instead a dealing with the demandos of some self-seriouso ambits. fuck the immortal ambits, some would say.

There were as many reactions as people effected. Amazon might discontinue its service, and shut Winer's immortal blog down, leaving rubble. He might say, "Ah, well fuck the immortal ambits," or he might get upset. I suspect he would be very upset. So you get down to contracts, I guess, and various exit clauses. Or, maybe "you get what you pay for."

Yeah. Fuck the immortal ambits. I just write when the spirit moves me.

Happy,

The ones who call us weird tend to be the truly dysfunctional ones. They are in denial. Me, I know I am dysfunctional and make no bones about it. I celebrate my weirdness. It's a mighty fine thing. May I continue to exasperate those who deny their own brand of craziness. As a friend of mine said to me just yesterday, "We're all a bit mishuganah." Amen, sister. Amen. And I am the embodiment. Transubstantiation, baby. I am the craziness of all mankind. Converse with me and receive your portion. Amen.

May I have some pizza too?

Pizza is round. My body is round. The pizza is my body. Partake in the name of Shekhinah, Lilith and The Jewish Mother. Blessed be.

Round, round, get a round, I get a round...

Wah wah ooo. Yeah.

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