Monday, 4/22/02

Andy stopped by sunny California for a couple days this weekend, and as usual, it was a lot of fun. One of the unholier byproducts of our reunion was this little ditty (3:14, 2657Kb), providing further evidence of our quirky yet lovable obsession with farms with dinosaurs. The single-take, off-the-tops-of-our-heads approach to musical composition never goes out of style.

My website now has an update log. I'm not sure why I didn't do it sooner, since I've long been aware that nobody wants to trudge through blawg to find out about site updates. So now, blawg can focus exclusively on the sort of whining self-deprecation that makes my personality so charming, with a separate room for exhibiting the additions and changes to the website content.

Deletions, on the other hand, will most likely go unlogged. I sometimes think of my site as the web equivalent of "newspeak", to use an Orwellian metaphor. Most websites accumulate content over time, or at least stagnate with a constant amount. My content is actually decreasing. Every time I take the tour, I find more and more bits that I'm embarrassed about or are no longer appropriate, and remove them from the site.

The act of deletion is itself a bit strange, because I have somehow adopted this mentality that once something is removed from the site, it immediately ceases to ever have existed, and is automatically erased from the memories of all who have seen it. That is, once I take down something embarrassing, I need no longer be embarrassed by it because no one will ever know about it. Not even those who already know about it.

I think that this delusion is somewhat a consequence of the internet's instant-virtual-publication paradigm. Back in the day, once you published something, it was published for good. You handed your draft to the press, it wound through the bindery, warehouse, bookstore, and eventually ended up sitting on bookshelves scattered throughout the world. And if you later noticed a particular sentence or chapter that could use some reworking, well, there wasn't a thing you could do about it. Nowadays, you simply save a file to some server's hard drive and, wham, it's published! If you don't like something about it, you pull it into emacs, fiddle with it, save it again, and wham, it's revised! And not only that, the original version no longer even exists. A single keystroke instantly propagates to every virtual bookshelf in the world. History is malleable!

The point is, sometimes I get so caught up in this way of thinking that I forget that original does indeed still exist -- in people's memories. The world is not completely Orwellian, after all. The impressions that people have of me will remain, even after their stimuli have been deleted.

This comes into play whenever I am seized by the overwhelming desire to tear down this entire site, which is fairly often. It will occur to me that my egotistical, pretentious monument to some hacked circuitry and hack writing doesn't really represent who I am at all, and a simple "rm -rf www/data" would save myself from all sorts of embarrassment, or at least misrepresentation. But I don't do this, because... what effect would it have? I can't change the impressions of those who have already seen all this. The original still exists in memory. And as for the visitors to come... well, it's better than being nothing. In this way, I come to my senses, and the website lives on.

Anyway, despite all of these deep internal struggles, I imagine it's more of a "tree falling in a forest" kind of situation than anything else. I am occasionally reminded otherwise (and this never fails to surprise and delight me), but I usually operate under the assumption that this website is evaluated in a void context, as a Perl programmer might say. Which is unfortunate, since this site really is nothing more than a desperate cry for attention. I guess I'm just not crying loud enough. Perhaps I would get all the traffic I crave if I provided some sort of useful service. I dunno.

Sometimes it feels like my entire life is being evaluated in void context. Heh.

Okay, that's enough. Go creep or something. There are other people around here who want attention, too.