I've gotten into this cycle of online checking, which sounds somewhat OCD-ish, but I'm not sure it's a real problem. It's not necessarily as irrational as some other compulsions I could have, like continually checking to see if the stove/oven has spontaneously ignited itself or developed gas leaks. My checking has a slight basis in reality, at least—if you check the same stuff enough, especially things with dynamic content like message boards, blogs, and email inboxes, you're bound to get a hit at some point.
As I understand it, computers and the Internet really don't have as much importance in most people's lives as they do in mine—but how much easier would things be if you could, with a bit of finagling, manage to pull up information amounting to a dossier of sorts on whoever you wanted? It's another fulfillment thing, I suppose, wanting to feel like I'm just so clever for being able to divine secrets no one else can. [shrugs] More questing for gnosis, perhaps.
I suppose it's rather disconcerting to know that people can find you if they so choose, though, as that's a bit counter to the anonymity that's held up as being somewhat core to the whole Internet endeavor. Look at the title of this very blog, for instance—my very paranoia at being found altogether too easily after these past few years of near-constant Internet connection and linking led me to dub everything "B27." (Which was an utterly futile effort, really, since Google's indexing is still largely based upon incoming links and the movements of angels through the ether. Most of the current links to me, at least, still have my name plastered all over 'em, so as I don't know what the angels are doing, I'm apparently not getting much out of this name-changing endeavor besides the catchy name.)
I'd still like it a lot, though, if I could use the Internet to find out, say, what happened to that one guy who used to be in such-and-such class with me in such-and-such year, or where that chick went when she graduated the year before me and moved to such-and-such place. The Internet's promise is paradoxical, as others have surely mentioned before—we're promised both ultimate anonymity and ultimate access to information. I'm guessing this is only an apparent paradox, as these quantities surely move in utterly different planes, but it still leaves me in a bit of a quandary. I'd like to be "known," to be (in)famous in some sense, and the Internet seems to be a good way to achieve such status—but the costs of such infamy are as of yet unknown. Once one is known, there're problems of audience and censorship, among other things. It's far easier to remain utterly anonymous as one of the 50,000 people with poorly coded, derelict, and abandoned AOL Homesites than to get attention. One of the few proven ways to remain relatively anonymous online, y'know, so long as you're not a name-brand pundit, is to just stay off the Internet altogether.
Then again, once these things are done, all these piddly details take on lesser significance. My name has been out there for a good four years now—it's really too late to do anything about that. I think I used to take more care with my name, though, than I have in the past however-long. (The "past however-long" being a term that largely refers to the period of time spanning from approximately September 15th, 2003, until now.) I just wonder what the cost will be of recklessly maintaining this online bastion.
While it's inconvenient for me, perhaps the people I can't find records on are verily better off.