My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.
— The Red Queen in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland
An idea idea so absurd it might just be worthwhile hit me the other day while in the shower. A lot of personalities in English speaking countries are expected to subjugate themselves to one or more ideologies that demand absolute subservience in exchange for membership within a group identity that others might support. People who do not assent or — at the very least — acquiesce to the doctrine run the risk of having everything they've ever said or written pored over in an effort to find something that might discredit the speaker in the eyes of the general public. We've seen this time and again with politicians and celebrities of all stripes who were unwilling to play ball with a certain group only to have something they said in an interview or did at a party decades ago come into general knowledge, absent of factual context, with a convenient narrative that ensures the public figure is embarrassed enough to resign from a job or otherwise lose their position as nervous corporations overcompensate for their own ignorance of social takedowns.
After the results of the most recent federal election in Canada, I started thinking about the feasibility of returning to the country just so that I could get into politics and hopefully start making a positive difference. A lot of what I've been reading in the papers has been bizarre beyond anything imaginable. Canadians are a very accepting group of people, but this doesn't mean that we should accept everything the current government has been ramming through the House of Commons. One of the very first problems that I would face if I were to run for office, though, would be this very blog and the words it contains. There are blog posts that express ideas I no longer hold. There are potentially offensive social posts that no longer have context as a result of Twitter accounts being deleted and App.net going offline. There are other posts that openly mock certain Canadian figures. Even if I were to put the site behind a password or completely take it offline, The Wayback Machine could easily show people what was on this site — or earlier incarnations — at a previous point in time.
It's this problem that got me thinking.
A person who wishes to run for office today, whether it's me or anyone else, will certainly need to have an Internet presence and communicate with the general public. However, any messages beyond a certain age can easily be misconstrued as offensive or "insensitive" to somebody a couple of years in the future as social norms and expectations continue to evolve. What a political hopeful — regardless their party or ideology — needs is a way to ensure that messages remain completely ephemeral and can be updated as time goes on. There are already a lot of tools that will allow a person to regularly delete old Tweets, Facebook posts, and more, but what about blog posts?
Then it hit me: why not make a theme that hides post URLs and always shows a maximum of 1 post on the front page of a site? Visitors who know the URL to past posts would be presented with a nice message saying that "the post has been revised" or similar to ensure that only the post on the landing page was the source of truth for a site.
It would be just like old times, when people would hand-craft their HTML files before uploading them to GeoCities. A single page with everything worth saying right there.
Mechanisms would need to be put in place to ensure that The Wayback Machine never took a snapshot, but this would get around some of the issues involving people looking for something that could be converted into a faux scandal.
This wouldn't solve every future dirt-digging problem, of course. Interviews would continue to be vexatious. This solution could potentially eliminate this simple problem, though.
Note: This whole post was written tongue in cheek. Don't take it too seriously. Even if I were to run for office, this blog and its 13+ years of content would probably bore even the most dedicated dirt-diggers.