Last week, I got a phone call from someone who had worked for one of the outlets where I've been published. Their name was listed in my copy of the article at thomaswilburn.net, and they asked if I could take it out in the interests of trimming their online presence a bit--I guess they didn't want to be associated with the publication anymore. I can certainly sympathize with that feeling, and was more than happy to help.
It was an interesting coincidence, though, because I've been thinking more about my own Internet shadow lately. I write here, and maintain a portfolio elsewhere, under my real name. This has advantages, and it also has disadvantages. At the very least, it can be surprising: the now-unnamed correspondent was able to contact me at my (unlisted) work number because I list my current place of employment on the portfolio (and also likely because I don't provide an e-mail address there, which I should probably fix). Like it or not, I can be easily located online, which ties my realspace identity to all the writing I've done here. And while I consider that a net positive (pardon the pun), it should still give any reasonable person pause.
Or to put it another way, when I meet someone who says "Oh, I've read your stuff," my first impulse shouldn't be to wonder if I've advocated a coup or something similarly inflammatory lately.
The obvious solution is to try not to write stupid posts, and I'm working on that (it's one reason that I suspect entries here have become both less lengthier and less frequent). But at the same time, over the last week or two, I've gone back through the archives here and spiked quite a few entries. They're not permanently deleted, but they are unpublished. A post may have been spiked for any number of reasons, including:
In my experience, this is an unpopular action for a blogger to take, and I'm not entirely comfortable with it myself. That said, I believe it's necessary and prudent. While it's a nice idea for the "arc" of the blog to follow my viewpoints and development as a writer and a person, the fact is that very few people will ever read it that way. More likely, any entry needs to be something that I can support professionally, regardless of the publication date, since it may be encountered without context or supporting posts.
It should also be stressed that this is hardly the first time my archives have been reshuffled and restructured, although it is the first time it has happened intentionally. Over a period of four years, the process of changing hosts, tweaking Blosxom and its plugins, and server outages means that any website will undergo some level of "memory loss," and Mile Zero is no different. This time, it's simply editorially-directed--and for most of the cuts, I suspect, the posts won't be missed.
In any case, while I've already conducted this surgery on the archives, I'm announcing it here in the interests of full disclosure. If something you found valuable has been pulled, or you believe that a particular post should have been retained, please feel free to send me a note via the mail link on the right, and we'll see if we can work something out.