August 12, 2013

If it's on the #internet, it really IS #forever

I'm always suspicious when I receive a "magazine" that I don't subscribe to.

Saturday's mail contained a copy of Editor & Publisher. Thin and glossy, it had the feel of an advertisement masquerading as a legitimate publication, or a pilot issue unlikely to be continued. When I worked in high tech, I got a lot of those. Sporting an $8.95 cover price and "Established in 1884," it had enough gravitas to make me look it up. I won't be subscribing.

What caught my eye was the mailing label. It had my address, of course, but instead of my name it was sent to "Break Away Press." To understand this reference, let's step into the Wayback Machine. Way, way back nearly 20 years.

The year was 1994. The Mosaic web browser had just been released, Netscape was but a glint in Marc Andreessen's eye, and domain names were free. I taught myself HTML and set up my own web site. I was young and idealistic and had vague dreams of using this new "internet" thing for publishing and web development, so on my personal web site and in my domain name registration I used a fake business name. Break Away Press. Of course I was just playing around, with no real intention of forming a business from it. So a few years later, I thought I had successfully wiped away all vestiges of that name. (Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of the original logo I drew up, which I kind of liked.)

How naive was I? Once something is on the internet, it will live forever.

I wonder: when I move, will Break Away Press follow me? Or will the new residents be puzzled by the mail they receive?

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