Welcome to my nightmare: UPDATED

May 9, 2009 by · 10 Comments 

Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the saying goes. However, the destruction of Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD occurred in an almost instantaneous onslaught of molten lava and ash. Building things is difficult; tearing them down is a breeze.

The catastrophe that befell yr. humble correspondent on this dreary, drizzly morning in May was not natural – to the contrary, it was entirely manmade. It being spring, the season of renewal and rejuvenation, I thought it might be a good time to clear out the cobwebs, dust off the shelves, and make some much-needed updates to my working environment. This included trading in my ancient Speadstream modem for a fancy new one with wireless capability and – here’s where a combination of hubris and ignorance led to my inevitable downfall – upgrading my WordPress blogging software.

Now, anyone acquainted with me even slightly will realize that the depths of my technical ineptitude know no bounds: when it comes to computers, I can turn them on, and perform a few basic data-entry tasks, but that’s about it. So, this whole project was likely doomed to failure from the jump. Still, I managed to convince myself that I was a fairly smart – or, at least, basically literate – individual, and could learn what I needed to know by reading relevant documentation about the ins and outs of upgrading from an outdated version of WordPress to the much fancier, more streamlined version 2.7. (By that rationale, of course, I should be able to perform brain surgery simply by reading a textbook on the subject, but clearly logic deserted me on this particular spring day.)

So, I diligently Googled “upgrading WordPress to 2.7,” or some equally vague series of search terms, and read what appeared to be the most reliable pages dealing with this subject, every one of which assured me that, although it was a fairly serious upgrade, it was also relatively painless and user-friendly. I even found a page indicating that the theme I was using – Barthelme – was compatible with the new version of WordPress.

All of which might be true, but what I didn’t count on was that the download would overwrite my old files, effectively erasing everything I’ve posted here since this site jumped ship from the earlier Blogger version in June 2007. I felt supremely confident pressing that download button, only gradually coming to the realization that the distant rumbling outside my window was getting louder and that there was a river of cascading lava heading straight for me.

Nor did I do the prudent thing and back up the site before making the switch. Fools rush in, and all that.

In short, I seem to have lost almost two years’ worth of data. Gone in the stroke of a key. (Whoever said that anything posted online was there forever can bite me.) To those of you who have been reading this site over the past two years, and especially all those kind enough to link to me during that time – links that will now lead you nowhere – I offer my sincere and profound apologies for this most dunderheaded of moves. Pride goeth before the fall, so they say, and pride combined with ignorance can be a truly deadly combination.

Still, in the spirit of spring, of rebirth and renewal, I’ll try to look on the bright side. This unfortunate turn of events has offered me the opportunity to give the site an overhaul, which includes a new look, and the implementation of an in-house style guide, something I’ve been meaning to put together for two years now. I’ll rebuild the links page and have that up in the next few days. The categories list will grow with the site, hopefully in a more logical and targeted way than was the case previously, allowing for easier navigation (once there is a site with content to navigate).

I’ve also clarified the site’s comments policy and its copyright, both of which can be found on the About TSR page in the navbar at the top.

Going forward, I hope to provide a greater number of substantial posts, with fewer quick links and brief asides, which in the past were used mostly as filler on days when content proved scanty, or when I was focusing on other projects. A certain amount of this will likely appear in the future – I do have a day job, after all, which puts food on the table (blogging is notoriously underpaid), and there are a number of writing projects, panels, and conferences that I’ve already signed on for. Nevertheless, my ambition for this site has always been for it to exist as a locus of intelligent, argumentative, and thoughtful responses to literature, writing, and publishing, and I hope that I’ve achieved something of that to this point. In any event, my goal moving forward is to make TSR an entertaining and illuminating (and, no doubt, occasionally aggravating) destination for readers with a yen for literary criticism and book chat. I hope you’ll let me know whether I’m succeeding, and as always, comments and suggestions are welcome.

A note about the site’s title: Regular readers will note that I’ve capitulated to the popular tendency to elide T.S. Eliot’s idiosyncratic spelling of “Shakespeherian” from his poem The Waste Land, and have reverted to the more conventional spelling of the word. I do this for craven reasons of being easier to locate in search engines, and apologize to any literary purists in the audience.

UPDATE: Many thanks to Carleton (in the comments section) and to Erin Goodman and James Patrick Mullins, who alerted me that Google’s cache contains records of web pages, so the work of the past two years is not completely lost. Now I’m on the horns of a dilemma: Do I rail against the blatant and arrogant copyright violation Google is perpetrating by using my content without permission, or do I fall at its feet in veneration for ensuring that all my work has not simply vanished into the ether of cyberspace? At this point, I think I’ll split the difference, and fall at the feet of Carleton, Erin, and James, with thanks.

The Google URL for TSR is here. I may try to rescue some of this content at some future date, but it’s doubtful that I’ll have the time to copy it all to the new site. However, it is comforting to know that it hasn’t all disappeared irretrievably.


10 Responses to “Welcome to my nightmare: UPDATED”
  1. Alex says:

    I would never be so bold as to upgrade a theme. I’ve sometimes thought about with regard to other projects, a finger hovering over the “upgrade now!” button, but always figured something like this would happen.

    On the other hand, I’m sure all that content hasn’t been lost. It will turn up some day.

    Changing the name of the blog is craven indeed. Do you really care about search engine traffic that much? Why? You don’t carry advertising, so what difference does it make?

  2. patricia says:

    Wow. What a weekend this has been for you. But you’ve got the right attitude (aided, no doubt, with a little help from the liquor cabinet).

    I don’t think the name change is craven – though you may not carry advertising, who knows what kind of leads may arise from someone discovering That Shakespearean Rag. Go to the mattresses, I say.

  3. August says:

    If you need any assistance, let me know. I used to do web stuff for a living, and am always on hand to aid a fellow lit fiend.

  4. Finn Harvor says:

    There needs to be a word specifically for the kind of stomach-churning,-hollowed-out-from-the-inside-feeling computer software running amok can set in motion. Compagony? Deleteritiis? Microscream?

  5. Carleton says:

    Stephen, you should be able to find many of your previous posts archived on Google. I don’t know if you would want to go retrieve two years’ worth of posts, but if there are specific ones you’d like to retrieve, you should be able to find them by Googling the titles of the posts. Best of luck.

  6. Carleton says:

    P.S. ‘Steven’. Sorry about that.

  7. B. says:

    Eeek! Sorry to read about your cybernightmare. Just promise me that you won’t get rid of the “Assmonkeys” category, okay?

  8. August says:

    There’s also the Wayback Machine, which is run by the non-profit I work for. I checked, and they have several pages of your material archived.


  9. jane urquhart says:

    Luckily, I have saved it all in a very secure place!

  10. Leona says:

    Oh no! I can’t seem to find 31 days of short stories through google. Is it still out there somewhere, do you think?