Dear Diary

The other day, Sports Data Research was recruiting contractors for a new project and I was tasked with rejecting the job candidates who did not make the grade. One spurned applicant responded, “In all fairness, it looks like very little action has taken place on your site in almost a year anyway.” His comment made me scoff with incredulity but also with some guilt. I was incredulous because the blog was irrelevant to the project, but I also felt a twinge of guilt because it’s true that we have all but abandoned the blog for the last eight months. The rejected contractor’s insult made me think about long-abandoned diaries, “Composition Books,” GeoCities homepages, MySpace profiles, and so on, vanity projects and personal record keeping that people started but eventually gave up.

If you were on the Internet in the 1990s, chances are that you had a GeoCities or an AOL homepage. I did and I remember pouring many hours into adding MIDI, images, backgrounds, and even a chatroom. The pages are gone now and not even Internet Archive preserved them. Somewhere, on an old hard drive buried in a landfill, the raw files are sitting there in AOL Press or DreamWeaver wondering if their author will ever return. I hope that they don’t expose my SSN to the first data harvester who comes along looking for a Windows 3.1 compatible drive.

My abandoned homepage was an earnest attempt to collect my thoughts and preserve them for posterity, like a time capsule, but not every journal is born with such sincerity. I recall a grade-school teacher forcing my classmates and me into keeping a journal every day for a semester. We bought Composition Books–you know, the black hard-bound notebook with the white splatter? I don’t know for a fact that all of my classmates promptly abandoned the books as soon as the assignment mercifully ended, but I am guilty as charged. I also remember four other teachers making us do the same thing in subsequent years.

Then, there was the journal that one of my first girlfriends gave me during my teenage years. I think that she wanted me to document our enduring love for 50 years so I could share decades-old love poems with our grandchildren. Just a few girlfriends and several journals later, here I am examining the practice of creating a diary, an account, or a blog and then dumping it unceremoniously when it’s convenient. MySpace profiles and WordPress blogs are the modern Composition Book, aren’t they?

After this examination, I want to promise that this blog won’t fall to the wayside, a victim of convenience when we get too busy to share NHL predictions or Patriot’s next Sabermetrics 101 article. I want to, but I can’t, because my AOL homepage was supposed to be my window to the World Wide Web and now it’s gone. All I can do is say we’ll be back with future articles for as long as we feel like it.

Photo by Susan, Creative Commons license

Shane Holmes

Shane Holmes is a partner and research coordinator at Sports Data Research LLC.