Here today, gone tomorrow.

February 11, 2013

This morning Jonathan Snook launched Ephemeral, an “ephemeral blogging platform” after spending Sunday night compiling the ideas.

I immediately thought this was a great idea; just like temporary emails, I can post content online and seven days later it’s gone! Then I wondered what I might possibly use it for.

Something about the idea of having an expiry date on content seems like a good idea. All too often I find articles about, for example, Web design that are outdated because technology has progressed, best practices have been refined, or trends have simply moved on, yet there it is, right at the top of Google waiting to mislead and confuse more readers.

The opposite is true as well. What if I write something groundbreaking and turn the Web industry upside down? The affect of my words will only last a mere seven days before my genius is lost to the ether. All the social media links pointing to my post will be rendered useless, and the world will move on without me.

Unless they cut, copy, and paste. The content we create does not disappear from the Internet simply because we delete it. Snippets of text are quoted on Twitter. Content is copied in its entirety to other blogs (regardless of copyright). The world never completely forgets what we’ve created—just ask any celebrity who’s had a compromising picture posted online.

An argument for archived content on the Web can be made, good or bad. Many argue that content should be saved and curated online to keep an accurate history of the Internet. A blog post that self-destructs after a week clearly does not conform to this school of thought. In turn, it acts more like a litmus test for success. If the post shows promise (retweets, links, etc.) then the author can simply copy the content over to a more permanent platform such as their own blog. Snook likened it to replanting a flower that has outgrown its pot into a larger garden.

Regardless of Snook’s intentions for the Phmral, it has has prompted a lot of conversation and thought about the significance of our words on the Internet, and it will no doubt help the Web community define, or perhaps redefine, the term “content”.

No matter what we get out of Phmral, I’m left thinking of something my grandmother passed down to me: “Don’t write it down unless you want the whole world to see it”.

You can also read this post (for the next seven days) on Ephemeral:

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