A quick warning. This post may strike some readers as being potentially morbid.
I saw a car accident Tuesday evening. I’m not entirely clear what happened–I caught it in the rearview mirror while I was at a convenience store. A mid-sized car, an SUV, airbags deployed on both vehicles. When I passed back through the area ten minutes later there were at least six police cars, two fire engines, and three ambulences. Paramedics were taking multiple people away on stretchers. Whatever happened, it was bad. That much was clear.
My friend Jim McCain lost a friend of his to a car accident a few weeks ago. My sister learned recently that the heart surgeon who performed my father’s bypass surgery ten years ago died in a motorcyle accident about a month ago.
I had a strange thought–an obscure thought–a few days ago.
In this wired age, what happens to one’s onlife “presence” when one dies? As a thought experiment, what if I were to die a month, a year from now? What would happen to the blog? What about e-mail archives?
So I started thinking about this.
Accounts. Log-ins. Passwords. It occurs to me that I should be keeping a file of these, with instructions in their use. How to get into my e-mail accounts. How to get into the blog and other places. Because you never know.
But what about the blog? There’s three hundred thousand words of my life in this website. When the hosting plan expired, what would happen to those words? They’d vanish, and they’d be gone. Unlike many of my friends, the focus of my online identity isn’t on LiveJournal or MySpace or Facebook or any number of other hosted solutions. Losing some of the words might not be so bad–does anyone really care about some of the things I thought were so profound or funny in an idle moment four years ago? But other words? It took going through and adding tags to the archives to realize how incredibly sardonic I can be at times.
I have three free hosted blog accounts elsewhere. (Two of them were automatic–I didn’t ask for them, but they were provided when I signed up for things like Opera‘s support community.) It occurs to me that I could implement a plan where an archived copy of the blog is made elsewhere, say on one of those free hosting solutions, one that I don’t have to pay to maintain, one that will, presumably, be there for some time to come.
Just ideas, but ideas that people of this wired age need to think about. Many of us have, if not lives, then identities online. Things could happen, and we should think about what happens to those identities when we’re gone.
Over the weekend I’ll put some of the things down, on paper, and come back and revisit it, say, every six months.