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if an apple falls in the forest will the cache catch it

July 14, 2010

I wrote an article couple of weeks back about how the recording of modern history was taking a hit and the internet was partly to blame and quite frankly I still stand by those assertions, but this time around I am not talking history. I have often commented in various articles of how amazingly easy it is to publish on the internet and nothing has changed and of course this is still true, but an interesting aside is how hard it is to become unpublished. It may seem a strange theme for me to explore I know, but a couple of things that have occurred recently have me focused on this point and being the blogger that I am I thought I would write of this concept a little further.

If you’re anything like me then no doubt you have received scam emails from rouge individuals located in some foreign country that somehow managed to get their grubby little hands on your email address as well as on some ill-gotten gains to boot and that for your assistance in helping them wire transfer this money out of their country you could be paid a small fortune, and oh don’t bother with the justice system they are all corrupt. Well the other day I received another one and I thought that I would copy and paste it on this blog with the telling line “this look suspicious or legit?” I quickly tweeted the link on Twitter received one reply and that was it. It was never intended to be a serious article and I had not ever taken the time to write a commentary and so I promptly deleted it from the blog.  So that should be the end of the story I the publisher of the said story or article had exercised my right to rescind publication by deleting the article from my blog. But not so fast, I only control a very small part of the internet so although the original post had disappeared from my blog the article still existed in search histories on Google and I assume other search engines but also as a cached copy.

Wikipedia has the following definition

Cache (pronounced /ˈkæʃ/ kash) is a component that improves performance by transparently storing data such that future requests for that data can be served faster.

So even if the original data is deleted a copy can live on in a search engines cache and still be viewed by people searching for the article so if for example you searched for the following

You will be presented with a link to the article and the option to view the cached copy, so if the article had been deleted you could still view it. I had however decided to restore the article that I had deleted as I had noted the search engines were still delivering my blog traffic based on this and other search terms, and that obviously there was a need for the article after all, however clicking on the cache link at this point in time will still return an original copy of the article.

So it was interesting to note that after my own experience of the internet’s inability to delete content that I was alerted to this story at Wired Apple Duct-Tapes Over Consumer Reports Review

Apple appears to have shifted into full crisis mode over a problem with the iPhone 4 antenna that reduces reception and drops calls when the device is held in certain ways. The company has apparently deleted threads from its official message boards linking to a widely circulated Consumer Reports review of the phone in which the publication proposes fixing Apple’s most expensive cellphone with a strip of duct tape over the antenna on the lower left corner of the device.

And that is their right it’s their forum and they can do as they like, however they like I have also found out about search engine cache.

A reader on the The Unofficial Apple Weblog first pointed out that a number of threads mentioning the search term “consumer reports” had disappeared from discussions.apple.com, replaced by a note asking the user to log into the site, after which the relevant discussions still are not viewable. However, Microsoft’s Bing search engine cached those pages before Apple removed them, so they’re still visible for the curious.

Apple obviously are a very secret and guarded company but I do find it interesting how limited understanding of human nature and the internet they must have, pretending some thing has not been said is like pretending the internet has a delete button. There is a saying about trying to make things disappear on the internet.

The Streisand effect is a primarily online phenomenon in which an attempt to censor or remove a piece of information has the unintended consequence of causing the information to be publicized widely and to a greater extent than would have occurred if no censorship had been attempted. It is named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, following a 2003 incident in which her attempts to suppress photographs of her residence inadvertently generated further publicity.

What do you think? Anything you have tried to delete still haunting you?

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