The Online Memory

According to WordPress trackbacks, I have quite rightly been pulled up by a few people for not making it clear in this post that, aside from Flurb, I was talking about print sf magazines.  There were a few other infelicities in that post due to, ha ha, writing them first thing in the morning, which is what happens here.  It’s called Morning Computer for a reason.  I went back and added a couple of words to clear up some of my drool.

The thing about writing online is that, unless you have the time and inclination to go back and find and link all the posts you’ve made on a subject in the past, the reader’s assumption is often that you’re coming to it for the first time.  So all the times I posted on warrenellis.com about the likes of online sf magazines such as Clarkesworld or Apex, for instance, don’t actually “count,” as it were.  Which is fair enough, because we don’t expect readers to be aware of every single thing we’ve said on every topic in the past, too.  It does, however, give interested parties a rhetorical club to work you over with. But you can’t blame anyone for that.

This fracturing of context is, I suspect, peculiar to these early decades of online writing.  It’s possible that, in the future, webmentions and the like may heal that up to some extent.  But everything from the 90s to today is going to remain mostly broken in that respect.  Most of what we said and did had ephemerality long before apps started selling us ephemeral nature as a positive advertising point.  Possibly no other generation threw so many words at such velocity into a deep dark well of ghosts.

To tie this back, I’m reminded of a quote Michael Moorcock once cited, from an author whose name ironically escapes me: that the majority of writers should be issued fountain pens with condoms slipped over their nibs, so that they can scribble away to their heart’s content without bothering anybody.