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, penmachine.com, 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?)