I was away when that bloggers’ scruff happened, where Mark Pilgrim got so fussed about accountability (check the “3 versions” link) and standing for what you publish that he not only rewrote his own blogging software to show every single revision made to every post he writes but also wrote an app that checked Dave Winer’s blog every five minutes so that it could keep track of, and further disseminate, everything Dave deleted. Luckily Mark’s taken it down now.
This time I’m with Dave. And he wrote a pretty good defense of why he thinks it’s OK to change your own blog posts:
I keep a file of sensitive stuff that I’ve deleted from Scripting News, stuff I found too personal, more vulnerability than I wanted. It helped to do the writing, but once I saw it in public, I got scared, and took it down. Now that people have set up a system to record everything on Scripting that I post within five minute intervals, I don’t think I’ll be writing any more of that stuff here. I guess it’s time for weblogs to become like television. Polished and politically correct. Impersonal. Commercial. That’s what they’re really saying. When there’s no room to change your mind, there’s no way to take a chance. That’s about it. They found a way to stop me from taking chances.
Rebecca Blood also thinks it’s important that once published, it stays. So does Ted Nelson, whose ideal Xanadu includes permanent, unbreakable addresses for every version of every document. So, obviously, do Mark Pilgrim and a lot of other people. It’s a recurring debate.
I think Dave Winer has an important point though. If we require total accountability we require perfection, polish, political correctness. I like that blogs are an in between genre where I don’t have to be as formal and correct as in a serious academic publication. I delete stuff, sometimes. And I rewrite stuff, sometimes. Sometimes I say so, sometimes I don’t. It’s my site, after all.