Kafka’s wish, that all the writing which he had ever produced would be destroyed after his death, was not respected due to the disobedience of his friend and admirer Max Brod. Since he did not burn his writing himself, Kafka lost control over the destiny of his work.
This is an early example of the impossibility to control our personal information, and it is very pertinent to today’s cyber world. I don’t mean to suggest that Kafka’s writing is in anyway similar to other information which we could find on the net today, but in essence the inability to determine what will happen with one’s writing is the same.
A lot has been written about the footsteps which we leave behind when we use the internet. Those trails are the data used by different interests or sellers when they offer us their services and products.
However, until the last couple of weeks, I never stopped to think about my control over my personal information, or in other words, my writing: conference papers, literary translations, and a biweekly blog, among others.
My chosen site was Red Room, its motto: “where the writers are,” indicated its focus, and it was no surprise that at least most of the users, were like me, people who write. It was a lively and busy community where members wrote and got responses, where special events, like Mother’s Day or Thanksgiving were celebrated with special blogs. In addition, it had a genuine atmosphere of good-will which promoted friendships.
And then, out of the blue, in the beginning of July the Red Room community got the announcement that the site would be closed in 5 days, there was no explanation why.
It was a big shock, somehow due to lack of experience in the digital world, I never saw it coming. I thought that Red Room would last forever, and was convinced that my material there would be always secure. I never expected anything to change. Upon hearing the news I felt deceived, it was as though someone whom I grew to love and respect turned out to be a married man with another family.
Now when the shock has somewhat dissipated, I wonder about my blindness, how come I never thought to ask questions about the fortitude of that site. Before I invest money in a company I read about it to check whether it is a sound investment (and still I could be wrong). How come it didn’t occur to me to do the same here, in the site where I invested all my energy and time?
And I am sure that I was not the only one; there were many other writers in Red Room and I never read any one raising a question about the business aspect of the site. I know that I was there to enjoy Red Room, it was a safe environment and I felt good in that happy bubble and never wanted to know about the world outside.
As I went through my blog posts copying and pasting them into Word document, in order to save them, I felt sad. It was because it was the end of an era and also because I knew that my “age of innocence” was over. From now on I have to take responsibility for my information, as much as I can.
It was too easy to leave it in the competent hands of the site owners, but eventually they had to take care of themselves.
I need to grow up and do the same