If you use a computer, the following scenario may be a familiar one: a program that worked just fine last week just won't now. In the software world, this is referred to as bit-rot. The graphic term isn't all accurate; in fact, it's not the program itself changing, but the modules it relies on. After an upgrade of supporting software, the program in question is still needed, but its concept of its environment has become obsolete. Interestingly, you don't have to be a computer program to experience this.
A few years back, I wrote a paper called Pretty in Pain: Beauty and the Art of Female Destruction. I later decided to put it on the web. I added the subtitle "Why the most beautiful women always go out with the greatest assholes", figuring the "catchier" title would generate more hits. I also figured some sort of picture would help. I took a random drawing from my sketchbook that had the right colour scheme, added a tear to the woman portrayed, and was on my way.
Cross-fade to the present day, many years later, when my lover and I were invited to join a murder of goths going to the German equivalent of Disneyland, intent on confusing the hell out of the natives. Of course, I had nothing suitable to wear, and out came my sketchbook. A dress was made in the wee hours of the morning, and after some token sleep, off we went. We had a great time and came home with a few dozen crap photos as well as a handful of decent ones, which I put on my website.
All of a sudden, I had the same visuals in my photo album and in a paper on masochism! People would mistake the sketch in the paper for a self-portrait! To make things worse, the paper was called Why the most beautiful women always go out with the greatest assholes. If people mistook my paper for a first-hand account, my ability to write from a neutral point of view would be doubted. This, however, was far worse: if people thought I was writing about myself, the title would suggest that I considered myself gorgeous and my lover an asshat! The sketch had not changed or become superfluous, but the context, the environment it relied on had changed dramatically through the simple addition of a single photograph -- bit-rot indeed!
So, let it be known that he is not an ass! He is a wise fellow, and, which is more, an engineer, and, which is more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any is in Messina!