Return of the Native: Hardy Gypsy Scholar is Back!
Well . . . that was weird. I woke up Friday, January 9th, 2008 and couldn't access my blog. From here at my apartment in Korea, all I reached was an official Blogger site with a message in Korean that I couldn't understand.
At first, I assumed that my blog was simply inaccessible, perhaps due to high internet traffic, a slow connection, or some other technicality. However, when I checked my email inbox, I found several concerned emails by friends who could not reach my blog and were asking why they could only reach a message that said:
Sorry, the blog at gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com has been removed."Removed?" I wondered.
I tried to reach some official Blogger page to report the problem but found access impossible due to some sort of glitch with my internet provider at home. However, when I got to my university office, I was able to reach a site for reporting the problem. Since I had been sick with the flu and exhausted from the intensive teaching on Thursday, January 8th, when I had written a blog entry that I intended to post officially the following Friday, I wondered if I had accidentally pressed some fateful button that had deleted my blog, so I reported to Blogger that I had accidentally deleted my blog. Separately, my friend Kevin Kim, located in the States, helped report this problem just in case my message from Korea should fail to reach Blogger.
Upon looking into the problem further, however, I discovered that I was facing a bigger problem, for I found a webpage titled "The Real Blogger Status," where I learned that as of "mid January 2008, Blogger [had] started to do something about a major problem -- blogs established in BlogSpot, in massive numbers, for illegal purposes -- hacking, porn distribution, and spam distribution." Of course, my blog fit into none of those categories, but the timing of my blog's removal fit the date mentioned. Further down on the page, I found the problem: "Blog Removed For TOS Violation." The acronym "TOS" means "Terms of Service," and a violation was implied by the message "Sorry, the blog at gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com has been removed."
For readers who enjoy reading long, boring legal documents, go read about Blogger Terms of Service and Blogger Policy Content Boundaries. I had glanced over these when I first started my blog in 2005, but I now looked into them more carefully with an eye to my problem. I had to assume that Blogger thought that I had violated one of the "Content Boundaries," but I couldn't see how . . . aside from the many 'insults' that I had directed toward my poor, longsuffering Uncle Cran.
Clearly, this removal was a mistake.
The webpage titled "The Real Blogger Status" explains why this can happen:
As Blogger tries harder to reduce the population of illegal blogs, and based upon the massive size and deviousness of that population, more legitimate blogs are going to be falsely flagged as illegal.My blog somehow got caught up in that flagging process. Perhaps somebody -- possibly Uncle Cran -- had felt insulted by one or more of my blog entries and reported my blog as an abusive one. A "Flag Blog" button can be found at the top of every blog hosted by Blogger, so reporting 'abuse' is as easy as a click on an icon. If a dedicated icon-clicker clicks away, perhaps my blog would be flagged as illegal.
But I'm guessing, and I really have no solid clue as to what happened.
I do, however, know whom to thank for getting Gypsy Scholar returned to the internet. Actually, I need to thank two people.
I should first of all thank Malcolm Pollack for his interest in my case. I know Malcolm only through the blogosphere, but we've become cyber-buddies due to our overlapping interests. Malcolm not only provided advice, he decided to contact a friend of his who works high up in the hierarchy at Google, the company that owns Blogger.
That friend is Mr. Bob Wyman. Now, I'd heard of Mr. Wyman from way back in my early history-of-science days at Berkeley, which takes me back to the early 1980s. Mr. Wyman received a phone call from Malcolm early this week and promised to see what he could do about getting my blog restored. He came through, and here I am.
Thank you, Malcolm Pollack and Mr. Bob Wyman. Thank you very much.
Now, I suppose that my latest Expat Living article, which appears in today's Korea Herald, is (ironically) already out of date:
Malcolm saw this article before I did, and wrote:Amputation of my internetic articulationAs the official "language" columnist for Expat Living, I am rarely without words, but since Jan. 9, I have been rendered speechless.
As of that date, or possibly even Thursday the 8th, my blog, "Gypsy Scholar," no longer exists on the internet. Try visiting it, and you'll receive this alarming message: "Sorry, the blog at gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com has been removed."
Most readers will find this message less alarming than I do, and some might respond with complete equanimity if not utter indifference. Well, such is the way of the world, and I accept its ways, for I am no more indispensable than any man whose blog's demise entails no corresponding demise of the world.
Some online friends of mine knew of my bloglessness before I did. Malcolm Pollack, who maintains his own fine blog, "Waka Waka Waka," wrote an e-mail of proleptic commiseration: "When my site goes down even for an hour or two ... I completely freak out, and feel existentially paralyzed ... (and) too small without it."
My cyber-friend's words sparked some uncharacteristically serious, cyborgian thoughts of my own concerning the extension of our selves through internetic articulation.
"I know exactly what you mean," I told him, "by being suddenly small, contracted to ... (a) mere physical self. Interesting, isn't it, how our identities have expanded to encompass so much. I feel as though something has been amputated. More precisely, it's as though most of me is now missing, (as if) an expanded body that made 'quasi-sensory' contact with so much else out there has been surgically removed. I feel no physical pain, but a deep sense of loss."
Malcolm agreed: "Yes, that's a good way of putting it. Through my website I have an extension into this other dimension that encompasses, in principle, the entire human community, and for the feeling when that's taken away, 'amputation' is not too strong a word, I think. It is as if a sensory organ had been removed, or something. It is extremely uncomfortable and distressing."
Minus my blog, I am thus even less than wordless with irony. I am a far-less-articulated, much-reduced self, an entity something like Newton's God minus His sensorium of space. Without the internet space as sensorium for my blogiated self, I lose much of my power, my presence, and even my much-vaunted benevolence. Indeed, I feel, deep within my bowels, the definite stirrings of malice toward whoever bears responsibility for the disappearance of my blog.
But whom to blame?
Perhaps a Maxwellian Demon, working for greater order in the internet, found cosmic justification in blocking my blog? Or possibly, some Orwellian Big Brother found political justification in reasons of state? Or maybe some unwell individual disgruntled by one of my posts reported my blog as a hate-speech site? Or just possibly, some purely stochastic cybernetic oscillation occurred, thereby placing the onus on nobody in particular?
I simply do not know.
As a language columnist, however, I consider myself duty-bound to offer a few choice words of merit that might subtly express the finer shades of my feelings: Great profanated balls of execrating dysphemistic maledictory cacophemisms!
I know, I know. Profanity is a sign of poor vocabulary, of a weak mind trying to express itself forcibly.
Well, I did warn you that I was speechless.
Jeffery is a professor at Ewha Womans University and can no longer be reached through his blog Gypsy Scholar at gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com - Ed.
Now I'm famous! Thanks. As for that maledictory eructation about your "feelings" toward the end of the piece: I should remind you that ladies, and children, read this paper too.I felt chagrin at the rebuke:
Oh, you saw that article? I had no idea that you subscribed to the Korea Herald! But if you're famous, then so am I. How famous am I? I'm sorry about the profane language at the end of the article. It just kind of slipped out. You know how it is . . . words picked up from one's parents when they stub their toe or hammer the wrong nail.I'll try to restrain myself in future Expat Living columns.
I'd like to say a few kind words for Google, the company that owns Blogger (as noted above). I appreciate much of what Google does, for I rely upon their services daily. I use Google's Advanced Search Engine, Google Books, Google Scholar, and various other of Google's services, and I am very happy about these conveniences. Without Google, I would be unable to pursue my scholarly career here in Korea, for the hard-copy resources that I would need are largely missing.
I am a bit concerned, however, about the recent problem that my blog encountered. Let me be clear. Google has the legal right to remove a blog without warning at any time for any reason. That right is quite clearly stated in the agreement, and I am not complaining. One can hardly complain when Blogger is free and the conditions so clearly stated, but I think that I must, with some regret, look for a different host for Gypsy Scholar and actually pay for the service under different conditions that offer more protection to me and my blog and more recourse if a problem should occur.
I would hazard some advice to Google. Offer bloggers an option of paying Google to host their blogs, and if the conditions are good enough, serious bloggers will pay. I would prefer to pay Google and stay with Blogger than go to the trouble of moving all my files to a different blog host, and I suspect that other serious bloggers with Google would prefer to do the same.
Just a suggestion.