Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ghost forums and unpopular torrents

The internet is an old place. It contains within it more epic tales, long drawn dramas and flaming romances than one might imagine, and most of them are available to the avid reader with enough attention to piece them together.

Like the couple who spent their lazy afternoons flaming at each other on their favorite forum, and affectionately laughed together at the resulting mayhem.

There are a great many of these forgotten stories, and the places they took place in are equally forgotten. Places that nowadays serve as graveyards for the interaction that used to happen, before it moved to that elusive place that is "elsewhere". Forums, message boards, communities, blogs, Geocities -

If you are a digital archeologist, there is certainly a lot of material to genealogize.

Despite the efforts of places such as the Internet Archive, there's bound to be an uncountable number of places and stories that simply vanished when the server owner got tired of the hassle and just shut the thing down. Stories that will never be retold or remembered, except by the few who were actually there.

I imagine that most of human history takes the shape of these stories. Lived but not remembered.

Like these places, it is a fact of contemporary information ecology that some things are easier to get a hold of than others. Some things are more strongly imprinted into the collective memory of the torrent network, and can be brought forth at a moment's notice. Others hide in the immemorial back alleys of the strangest places, and can only be summoned through the act of waiting it out. Slow to fade, the unpopular torrents are also slow to reemerge.

Who will remember these places? Who will seed the unpopular torrents?

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