This month has been nasty in the blogosphere; as in sudden-death nastiness, best summarized by Shelley Powers in With Sadness. One of the departed, Anita Rowland, was an occasional contributor here, writing me emails before there was a comment system, for example to identify a crocosmia and an iris. Bye, Anita. What, then, about blogs and death?
I see two problems. First, will your blog survive you? Second, who writes the last entry?
Life After Death ·
Dave Winer is insightful on the first subject in
archives. He makes an important point: people (like Dave and me) who build
and maintain our own blogging systems are especially susceptible to death
(snicker) in that there’ll be nobody there to keep things running once we’re
gone. I’m less vulnerable, in that ongoing is just a
bunch of static files, with a
cron job to flip the little picture
on the right side of the page. I do need to add something to make it easy to
turn off commenting, which by default stays live against anything that’s still
in the Atom feed. Then I think this might stay around for a while, assuming
someone pays the bandwidth charges.
So, as we get older, anyone who provides a blogging system for other people to run ought to consider adding a publish-the-whole-thing-as-static-files option. I remember when Russell Beattie stopped blogging for a while a couple years back, he managed to do that: make a flat static version of the whole thing that just kept running.
On the other hand, people who blog off their own space; say
a good chance of speaking to the hereafter. Hmm, it occurs to me that we’ve
had several thousand people blogging at
blogs.sun.com since 2004; it wouldn’t be
surprising if one or two of them are now dead.
So, if we can crack the technology nut, then there are the financial issues; once again, more difficult on your own property. ongoing burns between one and two hundred GB of bandwidth every month. I’d expect that to drop off once I’m gone, but not that fast, and not to decline to zero for quite a while. So who’s gonna pay? Maybe I need to think about a Blog Trust and talk to my lawyer.
The Last Post · Over at Anita’s space, there’s a nice final entry from her husband. Which is awfully considerate. On the other hand, some of us might be nervous leaving the last words to another, and some might even think it unfair to ask that of our spouse or next-of-kin.
Consider the example of Ezra Pound, who devoted the years between 1915 and his death to a single long series of poems, The Cantos, which is flawed and even horrible in parts, but in other parts my personal favorite words ever written by anyone.
The last entry in the completed collection is a tiny fragment concerning his partner Olga; I’ll try to reproduce it (the indentation and spacing are difficult):
That her acts
Her name was Courage
& is written Olga
These lines are for the
whatever I may write
in the interim.
[24 August 1966]
I think it might be a good idea to prepare a Ultimate Post, and instructions for those we trust and love on how to put it online.