Perhaps the obsessive personal ownership of one’s content is nothing more than a fantasy of the techno-elite… I mean, if you’re producing content into a context, do you really want to transfer it wholesale?
— danah boyd (emphasis mine)
Danah’s right to be concerned about the potential pitfalls of moving data out of the context in which it was created. For instance, when migrating old content over to my new blog backend, I copied lots of posts from several sources:
- extremely old site content via the way back machine,
- my LiveJournal,
- the hand-authored blog that ran from December 2004,
- and the WordPress blog that replaced it in January 2006.
I hadn't made many private or friends-only posts to LiveJournal, but I had made several. For each, I had to decide whether or not to import it to the new system. A fully-automated tool would have lost the authoring context of such posts — this one was meant for one person only, that one was meant for anybody but some specific person — and I may have ended up in various embarrassing interpersonal situations. Such social concerns applied in the other cases as well.
All that being said, I try to respect the decisions of my past-self to publish things online, even when I’ve since changed my mind — I suspect my future-self will want it all.