Saturday, August 15, 2009

Internet Archaeology: All the Content, (Almost) None of the Slapfights

I thought I would take a break from obsessively playing an English-language word game of apparently Turkish origin (more on that later) to discuss one of my other recent pastimes, something I like to call Internet Archaeology.

Simply put, Internet Archaeology is the practice of reading through old message board entries and archived blog posts, as well as anything else that offers information going more than a month or two into the past -- Amazon reviews, websites that are no longer up to date, and so on. But to be a proper Internet Archaeologist, something else is required: mindfulness. It isn't enough to read these archives; you must be aware that what you are reading is old, and thus that any potentially-contentious issues that you might encounter are likewise in the past. This can be a tremendously liberating realization.

Because you are reading something months or even years after it was originally posted, you can approach it with the emotional detachment you might bring to a book or to a magazine article. You may still get upset, but you will be less likely to find yourself dragged into the swirling vortex of internet drama simply because very few people want to be that person who resurrected an ancient flame war. And because you're less likely to hit "reply" and post something in the heat of the moment, you can take that energy and channel it into more productive areas, such as writing a cogent essay rebutting the position at length, going to the gym, or organizing your notebooks alphabetically by manufacturer.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think somebody just said something stupid on UseNet.

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