Death And Blogging

All the good bloggers have passed into the great beyond…no, wait, it’s only a few. But those few have made quite a splash and begged the question that’s been on everyone’s lips in Silicon Valley lately: what happens to online material when you die? In at least one case of a deceased American military man serving in Iraq, it sometimes gets eaten by the corporate entity (Yahoo, due to their privacy policy) and sometimes is lovingly taken over by a family member as an ongoing memorial tribute…

Mike Wolf, an NYC blogger, passed away suddenly in February, not long after he posted a facetious link to a Paul McCartney is Dead conspiracy site. The comments on that post now consist of a string of condolensces, during the course of which it’s learned that Mike’s cousin had a fatal car accident just ten days later. (There’s now a dedicated memorial to Mike on a different site.)
A fair bit of coverage met the self-inflicted death of Chicago blogger Aaron Hawkins back in September. Hawkins dubbed his site Uppity Negro back in the smaller blogworld days of 2002, ensuring some notoriety amongst those who didn’t necessarily read his work. His mother and sister have posted there a few times since.
Should we all be priming the internet to offer provisions for a fitting memorial? A few weeks ago, the father of a Marine killed in Iraq earned the right to access his son’s Yahoo! account, resulting in all the inevitable business opportunities? But what about all the intemperate comments left in other places, bad digital snapshots, words fraught with bad editing, bad writing, bad intentions?

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