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Why Can't I Delete My Internet Posting?

Have you ever wondered why items place on the internet cannot be deleted? If you have, keep reading.

In his book, "The Internet is NOT the Answer," Andrew Keen pulls the curtain back on what's REALLY going on in the Silicon Valley. (it's a great read) And in the process he offers an insight on the invention of HTML, the language of the internet.

As the story goes, while building the original concept of hypertext language (Xanadu) Ted Nelson had a specific goal - no deletion. Keen calls him a "rebel against forgetting." Twenty years later as Tim Berners-Lee arrived at CERN he was also concerned with "protecting his own personal forgetfulness," by creating a single global information space. Later as he wrote the proposal for the web he incorporated the idea of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) built on the concepts of Nelson. It would power a linkage between engineering computers. He wanted to eliminate faulty memories and so did not include the concept of deletion. Data would never be misplaced, lost or deleted. So HTML had no delete concept, by design. In addition, today many posters simply neglect to update old postings. (Yes, the base document can be removed, but that's another story)

Now apply the insight to Big Data, Facebook, and other data collection. It NEVER disappears -- on purpose. Everything you ever put on the "internet" including this blog posting gets assigned a unique URL. HTML simply connects the URLs. Google searches them and servers store them. So the great knowledge and insights added each day are theoretically there forever. But so are all the ridiculous pictures, postings, videos and nonsense with a URL.

What does this bode for the future? It's anyones guess. But it changed my thinking about searching the internet. It's less like searching a well maintained library and more like going through the house of a chronic hoarder. The house contains a diamond ring, but also old newspapers, trash, dead animals and who knows what. It explains why every time I do a search I am sifting through mostly random garbage to find some actual important data. And it all started with Ted Nelson's rebelling against forgetting.

Does it seem that way to you at times? Let us know.

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