Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Punted by Ponty

Al Kimel of Pontifications fame has asked me to stop commenting in his blog, and it appears he is determined to enforce this, since he has deleted a comment I made in response to someone else's query explaining that I had been asked not to continue.

Back in the ancient days of usenet news, taking back what we said became quickly impossible as the backbone refused to transmit message deletions. Soon enough after that, dejanews and the caching of old news items mean that our words remained available essentially forever, at least for anyone who knows how to search the archives. Therefore, plenty of what I said twenty years ago can be anyone with the wits and desire to find it.

I haven't looked at usenet religion discussion in years, and it seems to me that the real action has moved to blogs and to a lesser extent to fora. Thus, as discussion has moved away from publicly archived sites, erasure of the past has become a problem. It is less so in a forum, because as a rule the maintainers do want to archive traffic and find, as with usenet, that allowing people to erase their posts is an opening for abuses. But blogs are different: they can be erased and edited at will, and therefore they offer all sorts of temptations for erasing the past. I've seen this happen quite a bit: the history of the Russian Orthodox Automomous Church in the USA involves a number of deleted blogs and websites. Much of the pagan rites flap of October 2004 was carried out as the various offenders scurried about deleting their various webpages and blogs, though not fast enough for us "persecutors" to ferret them out.

My last response in Al's blog was deleted. Before that I saw my comments entering a sort of moderation. And in looking back at at the predecessor topic I see that Al also appears to have deleted the somewhat intemperate message with which he closed it. On one level, I'm annoyed, with cause, that I am not being allowed to close out my presence in his blog. It is perhaps not deliberate, but he has created the false impression that I withdrew into my hole, presumably failing to answer the questions which were put to me. But then, websites and blogs are always, in a way, false fronts. We write out our thoughts to the world, and then we take them back, thus editing our countenance for those to come.

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