To say that my friend Hamish
changes his electronic particulars as often as he changes his socks would be unfair, he doesn't go through socks that
fast. ;) OK that's a gross exaggeration: He's had the same domain name for as long as I've known him, but he does like to fiddle with the details. I've long since lost track of the number of things which have appeared before the @ as his email address, but I'm pretty sure it numbers in the double digits which is impressively inventive! Periodically he also likes to tear down his whole website to start over. I get it, that kind of a striving for perfection... but it also highlights how much of a house of eCards our modern interconnected existences are, because changing the details of one's online presence invariably breaks a bunch of the stuff that other people had built up to keep in touch.
So Hame's just completed one of his 'tabula rasa' reworkings of his site, and in doing so he borked the LiveJournal friends feed I (and assorted other people) used as a convenient way of keeping in touch with his blog. Bit of a nuisance but for the time being it just meant I wasn't reading his blog and, lets face it, he's only across the hall so I'm hardly out of touch with what's going on in Hamsterland. Anyway it came up last night in one of those "I blogged about..." conversations. He mentioned something he'd mentioned online, and I fessed up to having stopped reading since he'd pulled the feed I was using.
Just to be clear, I don't mean to suggest there's anything wrong
with Hame changing his stuff - it's his
stuff after all - but it got me thinking about how I relate to all this virtual-self stuff.
Personally, whenever I've made significant changes here at splateagle.com I've been meticulous about ensuring that - as far as possible - they don't wreck the way people use it for keeping in touch with me. That is the point of the place after all. For example when I changed the site structure to its current form a few years back I moved the blog page to a new place. So I told people who I knew had the old location bookmarked, left a note up at the old location
and checked my referrer logs periodically for the next few months to check the move hadn't thrown people too much. That just seemed natural and polite to me, an extension of telling friends and family your new address when you move... but with all the myriad ways other people now connect with each other where does our responsibility for this stuff end?
Most people abdicate responsibility for managing their online self by using a pre-packaged platform like LiveJournal or FaceBook, where someone else decides what does and doesn't get supported, arguably better solution until the 3rd party you've entrusted your stuff to moves/loses/changes that stuff and you have no say in it...
Later in the evening Hame prompted me to try Safari's RSS
handling feature again, and it turns out that - since I last looked at it - it's matured into a better way of pooling the various friends' blogs I read, than the LJ solution I'd been using. It now seemlessly finds and compiles the broadcast feed on everyone's blogs... except mine!* Drat. Need to fix that as soon as I can work out why...
*for some reason the feed for my page only appears (in Safari) if you point the browser directly at it here