People have been keeping daily diaries and emotional journals for as long as the discovery of writing, but diaries with a potential audience of five billion readers is a phenomenon that was quite uncommon before the arrival of hypertext browsers a decade ago.

Every day millions of people write about very personal issues on the public internet. Dreams, joys and sorrows – all in a splendid mix of human expressions.

The landscape of today is however different from having an old diary hidden under the bed. Sites such as Google and Internet Archive cache the old documents and store them for future usage. What kind of usage will that be? We don’t know.

Karnak, Egypt Eternal messages in Karnak, Egypt.

What you write today in your love mails or the Microsoft rants you publish on that billboard will most likely be read by someone many years from now. Even closer in time, your juvenile ramblings three years ago may be located in plain sight for your future boss to review.

It’s a very steep step in integrity evolution. Whether we like it or not, the internet is here to stay and it will outlive all of us.


  • avatar
    28 Feb, 2006

    Charlie Stross wrote a ‘rant’ (if it was written today it would have been called ‘a weblog entry’, but this was written before blogs were invented) about why he considered DejaNews to be harmful. It is a viewpoint that is as valid now as it was then. Or even more so.

  • avatar
    06 Mar, 2006

    The average age of mainstream computer users today is substantially lower and their online topics have gone from obscure Unix commands to very personal material.

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