Somebody somewhere has a better term for digging up your own old Internet stuff than “personal digital archeology,” I am sure.
I am working on a review of Reading and Writing Experimental Texts: Critical Innovations for Orbit: A Journal of American Literature. I thought maybe this was the first “real” review I’d ever written for something that was “academic,” but then it dawned on me that I had written a literary review before. Of a poetry collection, not an academic work, but still, I thought it would be useful to find it again. I don’t list that review on any CV I’ve used in a long while.
(The writing I do about comic books notwithstanding, of course. And while I think comic books can be considered literature, and we can perform academics with them, that’s an argument I’d need to make with some people.)
I didn’t have a copy of what I had written, but a little googling–like digging away in the dirt with a small shovel–and I re-discovered my review of Michael Catherwood’s Dare that appeared at Boxcar Poetry Review all the way back in 2007. Was it that long ago? My mini-bio sure seemed to think it was: the “Jason Kahler” who wrote that review is three or four jobs, and one more graduate degree, removed from the “Jason Kahler” who’s writing this now. The version writing now is in so many ways a better guy than that earlier fella’.
I’ve lived about half of my life with online access. I’m of the age where my childhood was analog (because Atari and Nintendo Entertainment System were still pretty basic–I still remember my grandmother’s friend being amazed that the little men in Atari Tennis were able to move their legs) but my adulthood slid into the digital. For better and for worse.
My dad used to lament the fact that he had to make special requests to get pictures of his grandkids for his wallet. So many of our pictures live only online now. That review I wrote thirteen years ago was never something that I could hold in my hand. Same with the new one I am working on. My mini-bio lists three other publication credits: that issue of Seneca Review is on my bookshelf (I remain really proud of that publication credit), the piece from Switchback is still online, but I have no idea what I wrote in Current, and I can’t seem to find it.
It’s like broken pottery that can never be reassembled.