My Great Internet Data Clean-Up

February 15, 2008

by — Posted in Personal Writing, Technology

You know how every once in awhile you need to just sit back and look at all of you that’s out there on the Internet.   Granted I’m definitely the wrong person to be discussing or pondering about how much of you exists on the wide open Internet.   I use a ton of sites, well a few tons if you count all the hardware to run all the sites I do use.   What I am running into is site fatigue.   I sign up for every new and shiny service and play with it for a week to.   If I can’t figure out how to synchronize it with my blog in some fashion, RSS or other, or if it doesn’t provide a function I can get else where that site just succumbs to digital rot.

Granted I can go back and flower the site and think it’s the greatest thing since sliced french bread, but normally I do not.   When I started this post months ago I was in a different place and mindset.   I got distracted and never dug into it much.  I don’t like letting drafts lie for too long, write or delete them.   So I had to scrap everything I had written, but recent news this week brought this idea up again.

When I go through my online sites I return a massive amount of hits in Google.  Could luck perspective employers doing research on me, I’m everywhere.   My transparency gives me a cloak in the Google Data Cloud.   Sometimes though, as I said, I have profiles the succumb to digital rot.   What do we do with rot when we come across it?  Normally we prune it out or toss it away.   Going through my online profiles I rarely delete anything since I can have some use for it at a later time.   Social network that supports blogs – cross post to it from creeva.com.  Items that delivers an RSS feed, well I may use it so let’s throw it in feedburner so I’m reminded it exists and I can repurpose it later.   This happens again and again, but some sites after initial testing really have nothing I can repurpose or reuse to any extent.

The sites I can’t use become eventually pruned, when I remember I go back and delete the account or profile I created.   The problem more and more we are seeing in the Web 2.0 world is that web application providers are making it harder and harder to delete your account.  Sometimes they don’t allow you to delete it at all.   This came to the forefront recently when it was discovered that Facebook never really deleted your account when you unsubscribed.  Pieces of you were left in the system like the Reese’s variety was left in the woods for E.T.   A  few days after this was big news Facebook finally relented and now allow users to delete their profiles.

I can understand the user retention stand point these companies are attempting to make.   I also can understand the ease of use that it is to user to have this happen.  What I don’t understand is why these companies can’t see the rot that is nipping at the branches of their web tree.   Now a company can say it has 20 million subscribers, but if you browse the profiles on their site and see 19.5 million haven’t logged in for 6 months to a year, that is rot.   It makes the companies look bad as well as shows how poorly they are doing.   Some users will help prune that rot away from you and leave no hard feelings.   You do cause emotions to rise by not allowing you users to delete their own data off of your service.    Please for all you users out there and companies, work together to get the rot out of the forest.   A lot will always remain but we can all work to clean it up a little at a time.

Leave a Reply