Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Thursday, 20 February 2003

Accidental Privacy Spills is a longish but rather interesting article on LawMeme about the fundamental nature of email: if it is interesting, it eventually gets forwarded to everyone; in any case, it will be archived somewhere forever.

I first got on the net back in the late 1980s through my job. Just a couple years later, my brother Steven got internet access through being a graduate student. We were lucky enough to run into this phenomenon early on.

You see, I had posted a bit to a newsgroup, which included an offer to do something "if people show an interest." No one had responded and I had practically forgotten about it. About a year later, out of the blue, someone sent me email saying, "Yes, do that." Until I got that email I thought of newsgroup postings as being ephemeral. They expired off my server after 30 days or so. Getting that response a year later brought home to me the fact that not only could people be archiving what I was posting, but that any number of people actually were archiving everything anybody posted.

Now, here's the interesting part. After reading the LawMeme article, I spent five minutes on Google groups and came up with the very posting to usenet, from back in 1990, that taught me this lesson.

Every piece of email, every newsgroup posting, every webpage I've written since then has been written with the knowledge that whatever I said would follow me around forever.

In movie news, with help from a coworker, I put together the poster for my movie.

In reading news, I'm reading the new William Gibson novel Pattern Recognition, which I'm enjoying enormously.


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