The Internet is Not a Tattoo

See the face of MySpace Tom this year? Remember the password to your LiveJournal account? Chances are, if you’ve been an internet user for a decade, you’ve subscribed to, cancelled, signed-up for and deleted several web identities. Your deft dismissal of online services is not surprising, considering that every technological device, toy and condiment undergoes a product life cycle. Trendmappers now race to identify the lifecycle of web-based businesses. So why don’t we behave as though our online life is fleeting?
When Apple discontinued it’s own MobileMe service, which I had subscribed to in 2003 when it was called dot Mac, I lost a lot of data, my business websites and blogs lost linked images and multimedia files, and I scratched my head in disbelief. How could they just throw out my backups of university homework like they were old ribbons and trophies my mom tossed out from my childhood? For once, a company had outgrown me before I could jump ship on them.
Years prior, I was enraged when YouTube deleted my profile and tens of videos without notice due to a perceived copyright violation. So I utilized DailyMotion and Vimeo, Veoh. Not long after, Google Video exported all of my uploads to YouTube again, so all the time lost typing descriptions was sort-of regained. But to what benefit? Now all of the sketch comedy films we proudly shot with tape-driven video cameras and edited in iMovie are an embarrassment to the friends who donned wigs to appear in them.
For well over a decade, I shuffled personal emails I wished to archive for later perusal between my first email account, djnorto@hotmail.com to my second, nortodj@hotmail.com. One day Microsoft cleaned out my closet for me and I was miffed. “Where’re my old love letters and incriminating gobbledygook?” I grumbled. Nowhere. A big cyber-eraser ate them, and today it’s OK.
When I word process or do graphic design, I save more frequently because I fear crashes. When I install new hardware, I back up photos, music and project files. I possess hundreds of data CDs and DVDs which archive years of my activity spent on computers, and I loan them sparingly because once I did so when I had no duplicate, and it was left in the sun to be forever corrupted. I’ve paid out the nose for data recovery and failed final projects and portfolio reviews due to hard drive crashes. But I still use technology and get mad when it doesn’t agree on what we should hold dear. Soon I’ll push on iCloud and mirror on redundant servers, but knuckle ink

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