A week or so ago I was having a late night txt chat Alex Hayes about online free ranging – the idea of not paying for server space or software, basically building an online presence only through the free and maybe even temporary publishing services like this here blog. In the end we found that to be truly free you have to let go of the importance of your work, let go of the need for it to persist.

Quite some time ago I took down the leighblackall.com and turned away from the idea of having my own wordpress and moodle install, instead settling for a leighblackall.wikispaces.com, OurMedia account, this blog, etc…

Of course most would ask, but how can you be sure of those services? What is their quality of service like? how long will they be around for? what might they do with your content?

At first I thought these to be legitimate concerns, and potentially a real problem. But now I see it differently. Now I’m not at all precious about the persistency of the URLs for my various online markings. And just like the feeling I had when I at last decided to stop maintaining my own .com I feel free and unfazed.

Posting this thought to this blog, loading that picture to flickr, spreading that movie across all the current video servers available at the moment is just like bill postering slogans and images at 2am down the main street of your local town. I make an image and now I go about sticking it up around town for it to get noticed. I paste a few copies down Flickr St, as well as a few on BubbleShare while I’m at it. I tag my posters so they appear in other streets around the block, I scribble a few words in chalk on the pavement knowing that they’ll wash off in the next rain. I cut and spray stencils to provoke thoughts in an otherwise sterile urban landscape, and accept that tomorrow the council or local do-gooder will have painted over these marks and others like it.

So you see, I think it quite a different and liberating thing to think about in terms of web publishing – comparing web publishing to graffiti and pavement chalk poetics. Once we’re prepared to accept that time will wash even things digital, then we’ll realise that for our presence to persist, for our markings to remain, we must remain active in remixing, reformatting, recreating, and republishing our works so that they reappear and reappear again – copied and redistributed by others across the Net.

I think its quite liberating to let go of the obvious – that digital means recorded, and think of it as a more fluid and transitory medium. The fact that a record or archive can be dug up if you really tried is just an added benefit, but its the here and now and what we say about before that catches me.

Pass the glue, this one’s going here.

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