Permanent vs. Temporary Writing

Last year, I wrote a blog post that is very similar in content to what follows. That blog post has since become a prime of example of what I'm talking about in permanent vs. temporary writing. Allow me to elaborate.

Back in the 90's, when the web was young, folks spent hours tweaking their websites. Some of them were a single simple page, while others contained dozens of interlocking pages covering a variety of subjects. I used to love checking out a fan page for a popular TV show such as The X-Files. It wasn't uncommon to see someone run an X-Files page, Buffy page, Roswell page, etc. All of these pages were chained together with banners or links. Here is a great example of someone promoting all of their various pages Angel Fan's Buffy and Angel Home Page .

I mention this because people spent a lot of time curating and crafting what one might call a piece of art. It wasn't a cookie cutter template or a single text box, it was a canvas that one used to promote, share, inform, and geek out on.

One of the things I remember fondly about that time is that when I wrote and worked on those sites, I wrote like what I created would last a millennium. It was permanent, every single word. Each page was crafted and there was no thought of hiding it or forgetting about it. Compare this to modern blogs, where people tend to read the latest blog after finding the article linked/shared and if you are lucky, they might scroll through some of your archives. But it's very much a cafeteria style web browsing, you just take what you want and dump the rest.

I believe because of the nature of blogs, the writing we do on them feels more temporary rather than permanent like the websites of yesteryear. I know that this post will be lost in just a matter of weeks and if you didn't see it while it was new, you'll probably never see it. That frustrates me, because something shouldn't lose it's value just because it isn't new and shiny.

Because of this feeling that everything is fleeting and temporary, I've ran dozens of blogs over the years, abandoning them with relative ease. It's much easier to garner attention to a new shiny blog then try and convince someone to come check out a blog with hundreds of posts. People want to get in on the journey from the beginning and checking out the backlog just isn't cool in a society where news comes by the minute and Tweets by the seconds.

But I think I did this because I knew deep down that what I wrote wasn't for the test of time. It was for the moment, just like the post I reference at the beginning of this article. I wrote out similar feelings last year and since then I've reset this blog twice and that post is now lost. It was part of the problem, it was only meant to be read temporarily.

Maybe writing in a temporary style makes the writing more valuable or maybe it feels temporary because less effort goes into it because we know it won't last. Blog hosts will close or change and become less user friendly. Domains will expire and at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, "Is this really all that important?"

I spent hours combing over archives of my old posts so I could pull out some of the best and put them together on my new HTML site: My Favorite Posts. It's far from complete and I hope one day to go back and clean up some of them since they are quite old, but when I posted them into my HTML code I felt like I was preserving them for the future. I knew that my format wasn't going anyway. I knew that I wasn't relying on Wordpress, Blogger, or Write.as. I knew that the file would be small, the words would look good, and maybe just maybe someone would take the time to explore my site and come to appreciate these little stories I shared oh so many years ago.

I think we ought to try and make some of our writing more permanent. I know complaining about the newest movie release or the latest sport score isn't something you may want to reflect on ten years from now, but there are those good stories that come from your heart, soul, and memory that deserve a more permanent home. And as much as I love blogging, I just don't think it's right avenue for archiving.


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