Memento Mori

Thinking about two people:

Derek K. Miller, an eloquent fellow of wide-ranging interests: music, software, podcasting, writing…and, alas, cancer.

In November of 2011, Derek posted The Endgame; until he did, I really believed he would get through all the chemotherapy & suffering, would get better. Six months later, his final post made the news (and brought so many readers to his site that the server crashed).

Derek’s web site,, is still up. I visit it now & then, to re-read the old posts. For a time, there was a problem with spam comments, but someone’s taken care of that.

Also thinking of Martin Manley, a sports writer & statistician. I never met him, never read anything he’d written, never knew anything about him until he died – of suicide, meticulously planned & prepared over the last fourteen months of his life.

Martin left behind a web site – Martin Manley Life & Death – written in secret, published on the day he died: equal parts autobiography, apologia, and suicide note. He paid Yahoo for five years’ site hosting.

Two days later, Yahoo took down the site, for unspecified terms-of-service violations. (At least one mirror is available.)

Not so long ago, people left behind tangible, real-world artifacts when they died: letters, diaries, photographs. Now it’s all online, quickly erased & forgotten.

That’s beginning to seem like a huge mistake.

Will people fifty years from now realize how much of their history has been lost? (How much has already been lost? Has anyone noticed?)