Monday, 13 April 2009

I don't recall at what point I took down my website but it was last year, probably the middle of the year, and it had to do with bad online blogging experiences. You sometimes attract comment from people who don't show enough respect. You reply. A flame war heats up.

Best to get out before it warms up. Or stay out altogether.

The online world is strange and sometimes difficult to negotiate. Too much exposure can leave you feeling depleted. Too little and you're not satisfied. You can stick with 'friending' in Facebook, but many people try to appeal to a wider audience.

In my case, the decision to reload my website is linked to a professional desire for more eyeballs. In the redesign, there are two areas: a portfolio of completed work and a timeline linking to personal pages with more details of historical and more recent interest.

The timeline was always there but I've removed some pages, mainly pages detailing books I bought at stages in my life. I don't want people to make decisions about me - as a commercial enterprise - that might affect our dealings negatively. Other things have gone, too. But the page and image counts are both up, with currently about 90 hypertext pages and just on 620 images online for anyone to see.

I've put up stuff from my mother, too, although she had no idea when she was writing it that it would be published. Possibly this is a breach of trust, but my generation (and generations coming after mine) operate in the world differently, and the online environment is particularly notable in this regard.

Some of her anecdotes, relating to pictures I scanned and asked for her remarks on, are priceless. I'm even thinking of putting my father's memoir - 135 single spaced pages I received on a CD in 2002 - on the site. He'd be ropeable if he foudn out, but there's no chance of that: he's now got dementia.

These seemingly mercenary decisions about how to treat other peoples' words might reflect badly on me. But in posting mum's stuff I made editorial decisions about including all text. In dad's case, the memoir is written anyway in a way that severaly limits the possibility of identifying third parties. This is just the way he was.

But nowadays we're not so concerned about privacy in terms of publication online. There are things you always keep private - like your address - and other things you share beause - well - it simply doesn't matter any more. There's so much available online and there is so little chance of it being used inappropriately without the person responsible attracting opprobrium themselves.

In a way it's this community of online relations and standards that regulates behaviour. We are seeing, now, that dismissal on the basis of material published on social networking sites is legally questionable.

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