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December 31, 2008

You can’t take it back…

Filed under: General,Perspective — Tags: , , , — Bryan @ 7:00 am

This isn’t meant to scare you. Posting things on the Internet isn’t really a big deal as long as you’re not a dork about it. Just use some common sense and be civil with people. The Golden Rule is always good way to go when in doubt.

Granted the things you say on a corporate Intranet aren’t likely to linger in cyberspace forever, but even there you should always adhere to your companies Code of Conduct or you’re like to find yourself under disciplinary action at best, out of a job or worse.

A scary thing though (and this is where persona plays into things) is that some companies now evaluate potential new hires based on the results of what can be found about someone in an Internet search. And just because you marked your MySpace or Facebook profile as private is really not relevant because there are agencies that have contract agreements with these sites that allow your prospective university or employer to access all of your content. As companies get more savvy to this (unless something happens to the contrary) expect even more privacy violations, and more digging. In reality, all it takes is a credit card number and your first and last name to dig up more information on you than you could ever think possible.

But Web pages aside, you should always be aware that whatever you write in a public space is likely to resurface at some point in time. Whether or not people care is a whole other matter. Just because you posted some comment to some forum or other that might be embarrassing ten years ago, don’t think it can’t come back to haunt you.

Personally, I’ve always tried to be reasonable when I’m online. I’m sure there are a couple of places where you can find me engaged in some argument about something or other (I think there is one out there where I have an argument over some 3-D gaming technology). But, I think the best surprise example from my own life has to be this item which is now recorded for all posterity on Google Groups.

It’s nothing embarrassing, but here’s the history. In 1993 when UUCP (News groups), IRC (internet chat), FTP repositories (file sharing) and Gopher (pre-WWW hypertext) where still the predominant communication systems on the Internet, I was contributing to some of the early video game related newsgroups through a local Columbus, Ohio based BBS system called BlueMoon BBS. This BBS was a UUCP node which means that it was connected to the Internet newsgroups. I only posted a dozen or so times through this site and had completely forgotten about it until one day when Google announced that they had located backup tapes of all Internet Newsgroup posts going back to 1981 and were now going to put them online in a searchable format.

That was pretty cool. From there, me and several thousand people immediately started searching for our old posts to see how far back we could locate ourselves. I had never in my wildest dreames imagined this stuff would end up on the web, but there it was. Good thing I wasn’t a newsgroup troll.

[read the other parts of this series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

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3 Comments

  1. Bryan-

    You’ve got me beat, the oldest I could find ego-surfing the archive was 1996.
    http://groups.google.com/group/rec.audio.opinion/browse_thread/thread/362689c1a45d61bc
    For the record, I sent the cartridge back and got another without the issue.

    -Paul

    Comment by Paul Hildahl — January 1, 2009 @ 6:59 pm

  2. You can request that Google remove all your posts tied to an old email address you don’t use anymore. This won’t remove your posts from all the usenet tracking sites, but no one really uses them anyway.

    To be fair, no one of any importance really uses usenet anymore at all.

    I delete all the posts I write on Google Groups by hand. I consider my opinions “time sensitive.”

    Comment by doomsday cock — January 2, 2009 @ 9:07 am

  3. Hey Paul! Thanks for stopping by. Of course you’re post would be turntable related 😛

    And Doomsday… man I can’t wait to see you old and crotchety. You’re so crotchety now, you’ll likely implode from the crotchety concentration. =D

    Comment by Bryan — January 4, 2009 @ 6:09 pm

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