CHAT: Wayback philosophical issues x: CHAT: facing your own mortality (as a conlanger)
|From:||Nomad of Norad -- David C Hall <nomad-conlang@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, July 1, 2008, 21:59|
>> [mailto:CONLANG@listserv.brown.edu] On Behalf Of Rick Harrison
>> If you have web pages that you want to stay online after you
>> no longer pay the hosting bill, what options are available?
>> Wayback Machine at archive.org doesn't catch everything and it
>> not be around forever.
> That would be the point of the trust fund. How long would
> basically mean how much you leave behind. There are hosts that
> can run as little as $100/year. It's just a matter of having
> someone else to keep the site maintained.
> I know archive.org won't be carrying on my sites. I had to
> threaten them with a copyright lawsuit to get them to take my
> domain down. The point was that I don't want obsolete
> information being posted.
You know, it's interesting. I watched a documentary series in the early
to mid 90s about Charlie Chaplin, talking about his own history and the
history of his films, how he want about making them, and so on.
At one point, they mentioned that they'd found this private collection
of all these films of his, a large part of which consisted of raw
footage on reel after reel that had come about as he'd filmed his films,
and it was a fascinating study for film historians because they were
able to watch exactly the process he went through in creating his movies.
This was something he'd wanted to keep hidden away from his audience,
his film fans, because he didn't want anyone to know *how* he'd gone
about crafting his films... but the unused footage had all been
And it turns out the way he'd gone about things often times was to
literally make it up as he went along. He'd create an elaborate set,
and then he'd let the plot play itself out in the set he'd built, *as*
he tried to figure out how and where the story was going, discover for
himself what kinds of characters he had in the film, and so on.
Sometimes he literally tore down sets and went back to the beginning
again to start making the movie over from the beginning, with the sets
and the vista changed to something different, the characters changed to
something else, and so on. But by the time he was done with it all,
he'd generally created another masterpiece of silent comedy cinema.
I remember distinctly one particular example. He was doing a film in
which a blind lady selling flowers on the street corner mistakes him, a
homeless street begger, for a millionaire and later ask him to pay for
eye surgery... and so he had this one scene, on the street corner,
where the mistaken impression happens. He kept filming the same scene
over and over and over again, for several days, and knew that it just
wasn't working. He couldn't figure out how to *sell* the fact to the
audience that the blind lady suddenly came to think he was this rich guy.
Finally, one day, it dawned on him the solution. He is at the street
corner -- an intersection, actually, with lots of vehicles waiting to
pass. He is on the opposite side of it from the blind-lady's flower
stand, and there is this fancy carriage parked right there at the street
corner, between him and her, beside him. He spots a beat cop some ways
off, coming down the street on his side, thinks "Uh-oh! I gotta hide!"
He looks from the distant, approaching cop, looks to the carriage, looks
to the cop... and then right quick he plucks open the door on the
carriage, ducks into the carriage, and then as quickly opens the
carriage door on the opposite side and steps out. Whew! Narrowly
escaped *that* situation.
Then he spots the lady selling the flowers, and decides he might as well
buy a small lapel flower with the one little coin he has to his name.
He gives her the coin, she plucks up a flower, turns to him, and then
*feels* *about* *on* *the* *front* *of* *his* *jacket* searching for the
little pocket to insert the flower into... and in the process revealing
to him, and to the audience, that she was blind.
She now turns around to make change. At that point, behind him, the
rich guy gets into his carriage and closes the door -- Thunk! -- and
bids the drive to drive on. The blind lady, *hearing* the door close,
turns around and says "Oh, THANK you!" meaning now she can keep the
change. At this point, surprised, Charlie looks behind him, where she
was "looking," realizes what had just happened, and then, so as not to
dispel this magical and precious moment in her life, he *quietly*
tiptoes away from the scene, in order to allow her to continue to
believe it was the rich guy that had bought the flower and let her keep
Now, I'm sure Charlie Chaplin didn't want people having "the outdated
versions of" his films (the older, unused footage), and had in fact said
as much. A bit like a magician not wanting anyone to actually know how
his illusions really work. And yet he'd kept all this footage in his
personal collection, and decades after his death, film historians and
the like discovered this cache of films and found it all absolutely
invaluable in understanding not only the craft of his making the movies,
but also what kind of person he was in making them. And it would have
been a *ginormous* loss to the history and understanding of film had he
in fact burned all those reels of raw footage. It would have cheated
the world, and future historians, out of something precious and
irreplacable, because no one would ever have known HOW he made these
films, HOW his creative process actually worked, and civilization would
have been at a loss for that.
You stated that you demanded that archive.org's Wayback Machine delete
all copies of your website, "[because] I don't want obsolete information
being posted." You misunderstand the fundamental purpose behind the
Wayback Machine. The funamental purpose behind the Wayback Machine is
to create a complete, comprehensive snapshot of *the* *entire* World
Wide Web at any given date in its history, so that a person a decade
from now, or a century from now, or a thousand years from now, can say,
"I wanna know what the Web, and a given page in particular, looked like
on October 9th, 1999" or "...October 9th, 2009" or "October 9th, 2019."
And he should be able to follow ANY link to ANY other place that the
page links to, or that the page that it links to links to. Period. To
do otherwise is to cheat that person 1000 years from now out of valuable
information that might not exist in ANY other form or be preserved in
ANY other place. The very *context* of that information (who and what
linked to it and why, f'rex) is *itself* precious and irreplacable. It
is like when archeologists lament looters digging into ancient sites
before they can get there, in order to steal valuable artifacts for the
black market, thereby wrenching them *out* of the archealogical context
in which those artifacts originally existed in the ground...
Okay, so someone sees what your language page looked like in, say, 1999
(assuming it went back that far). Anyone that's interested in studying
your language *for* *its* *own* *sake*, by definition, is going to want
to look at the most recent *copy* of it. If one day, you die, and stop
updating the site, and then the site goes byebye because of course you
stopped paying for the domain to be kept up... the last-updated-copy of
your site would still appear in Wayback for them to look at, and to
follow archived links from other sites to. Only those that wanted to
study the *evolution* of your language, study the *creative* *process*
you actually went through in creating it (separate and distinct from the
*implied* history of the development of the language as it is said to
have existed within the conworld you've created) -- directly analogous
to those film historians studying the proverbial "lost footage" of
Charlie Chaplin's dailies -- would still find it an invaluable thing for
those interested in the craft of creating conlangs and the like, or of
understanding how *your* creative processes worked, assuming you ever
became as important to literary history as Chaplin did to motion picture
history, or even if you didn't but had had *some* impact on it, if ever
I think the likelihood of "outdated copies of" your site continuing to
exist at Wayback has a snowball's chance in the Sahara of actually
causing harm to the language, simply because *by* *definition*, Wayback
is designed to keep everything *up* *to* *and* *including* the last
updated copy of the page, and anyone that finds a link to your page on
an existing site, but finds the site has now gone, is more than likely
only going to WANT to look whatever the last (most recent) complete
version was, and will therefore select whatever the last date was, and
only work his way backwards if the last (most recent) preserved copy of
the page turns out to be a cybersquatter page or a "We've moved" page or
something, at which point he'll work his way backwards to FIND the
last, actually complete copy of the page.
The only thing you'd want to be concerned about was if someone *else*
MANUALLY made a public, mirror copy of your site at some point and THEN
stopped *updating* *it*. Wayback, by definition, ISN'T going to do
that, because they're *automated* and *by* *definition* will continue
making updated mirrors of your site until *they* *cease* *to* *exist*
(which means, by definition, your page goes byebye along with
*everything* that Wayback has preserved) or until doomsday arrives,
whichever comes first.
In short, I think you've got blinders on, and really should rethink your
stance on this.
All IMNSHO, of course. :P :D :D :D
>> The conlangers of ancient times published their ideas in
>> which has preserved them to some degree, although some of the
>> books are scarce collectors' items, unavailable from libraries
>> never webified.
> And for all we know there are many who never wrote anything and
> their ideas are long forgotten.
>> Is it arrogant to want some of your ideas to live on after you
> Well, now you're getting philosophical. As an atheist, I could
> care less what happens after I cease to exist, and it's the
> quality of the existence that matters more than the duration.
Just remember, though: You exist as a part of the overall continuum
that is our civilization, and all of us are linked together in that what
we create influences what someone else creates which in turn influneces
what someone else creates. Take a piece of that out and destroy it, and
you destroy a link to the past, and a link between those persons who
have influenced you and your stuff and those that have been influenced
by them *through* you and back again. It might be a minor thing, that
link, it might be a *major* thing, that link, but often we don't know
the true magnitude, or the lack thereof, until well after we're gone and
some guy on some library planet in the 51st Century tries to research
this aspect of turn-of-the-2nd-Millennium life. :-D
Nomad of Norad (David C. Hall) --- *TeamAmiga*
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