A week or so ago I looked at my own TIME.com web-work inventory page for the first time in a while, and after clicking around, I was pretty deflated to learn that all but a tiny handful of my news specials are now 404s, magazine TOC redirects and “Method Not Allowed” errors. The server-side team didn’t even bother to stylize the error messages for the latter. Three and a half years at Time Inc., and these days I’m not even a digital wisp there.
The great irony of actually working in the “your digital trail is eternal” Internet is that this is the way it goes: If your site’s not being constantly redesigned and refreshed, you suck at Internetting, so anybody working for that site in a production context had better get used to their mellow getting harshed. This certainly isn’t the first time I’ve had my work overwritten in the wake of site updates — I let out one of those “passage of time” sighs when Slate redesigned last fall and overwrote the last vestiges of my front-end dev work there — but it’s always a buzzkill to look for your old stuff only to find it dead and gone. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve played web executioner and enjoyed it: Tearing out the sites’ old weeds from primitive web days used to give me as great a joy as right-clicking “Delete Directory?” can give a man, which isn’t actually that much joy, but it’s still more-than-zero joy. It must have sucked for the producer who coded all those table tags for some 1998 web special on “She’s All That”, but even as the Internet Archive Wayback Machine fights a brave battle, we all know this web game is pixels to pixels, dust to dust.
Pretend that took four full minutes to load in a Mosaic browser. 28.8 kbps dial-up salute to you, old page.