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Of Time and Newsgroups

by Robert E. Rogoff

When I first started on the net in 1994 I had no reluctance to put my name to ephemeral and often less-than-diplomatic Usenet comments. Probably part of that stemmed from thinking of Usenet as ephemeral and not having the potential audience it now has on Google.

Then somewhat later, after learning that many of the messages I thought had disappeared were archived without my knowledge or permission on a web site then called Deja Vu, I was pissed off someone had "stolen my words" and acted to expunge evidence of my antics, succeeding in getting many of my Usenet posts erased from what was by then called DejaNews.

Oddly, I currently harbor mild regret that most of my Usenet posts are gone. I also regret that my user name morphed a number of times, making it difficult to find even all the surviving posts available on what is now Google groups.

Similarly, if I remember correctly, this is the third incarnation of my SFF Net account. While I made a number of reposts from the prior versions, to my knowledge, what's on the server now and in the SFF Net archives are the only evidence of my newsgroups.

The pragmatist in me realizes that whatever value such casual online writing has (if any), chances are I'd rather that if anyone bothered to archive it, that that anyone might as well not be me. I'm just not obsessive enough to hoard it all.

I'm not sure, but maybe I should have just let all the evidence be--especially because with maturity comes wisdom, including the wisdom to realize that over time people change, and people change their minds.

I might have posted a few things here and there that could have come back to bite me later, but overall it was just ephemeral flotsam and any interest it might still hold would primarily be academic.

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Copyright © 1994-2008 Robert E. Rogoff. All rights reserved.