Flutterby™! : Sickness

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2002-06-19 16:46:15+00 by Dan Lyke 6 comments

Back in the early '80s, I ran across one of those late night SciFi TV shows while dialing BBSs at midnight that had as its premise a teenage hacker with a terminal disease, who managed to move his essence into a computer. Since then I've thought about the organisms we create with computing, and I've set up systems that were self-sustaining to the point that I didn't know they were there 'til I accidentally killed them, by trying to move my user account between machines and missing a cron job or some other system which existed outside of my daily routine.

Dave Winer is in the hospital, I hope he gets back on his feet soon, but one of the interesting side effects is seeing what happens to the systems which Dave has created when he becomes absent. For the most part, Weblogs.com continues, but a few things don't: /. hasn't shown up in the change list since Dave[Wiki] took ill.

Columbine often ponders about the meanings of on-line relationships. Various virtual deaths in the online journal community have also brought up questions. We exist in the ways we impact the community, some of those impacts happen beyond our existence in a community, and in that way we might "live" beyond or corporeal existence. Sometimes.

[ related topics: Dave Winer Community ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-06-19 18:01:20+00 by: TC

Somewhat along those lines you might read Seeing and Tuning Social Networks

I've read some of Columbine's writtings about online relationships and tend agree with her when I understand her but must confess I sometimes get lost in her nuance or perhaps insider references (those wack Bostonians)

Dan, I find this especially interesting coming from you, a person who has chosen not to spawn. Most people(well ok most the people I can understand) tend to want to leave a mark on the universe as a testament to their existence. Are weblogs becoming that???

#Comment made: 2002-06-19 20:36:16+00 by: Mars Saxman

If you want to leave a mark on the universe, get yourself embedded in a silt deposit in some coastal estuary, preferably not in an area prone to hurricanes. This will give you more of a chance at becoming a fossil, thus improving the odds of being dug up by some paleontologist a million years from now. Now that's a legacy.


#Comment made: 2002-06-20 03:25:59+00 by: other_todd

Heh. Todd, when I'm talking about other online journals or online places, by definition you are catching me at my most insiderish. Not to worry, you didn't miss much. The gist of my online-relationships screeds is usually: "Hmm, I seem to have found another way in which they are not quite actual relationships. Close, but no cigar yet again."

Here's something that ties in, I think, with Dan's musings and requires no insider status to appreciate: I have, on more than one occasion, wondered whether it would be morbid of me to leave behind instructions for graceful failure and/or dismantling of my various web pages when I die. I know for a fact that I'm not the only person who's thought about this. I mean, there are people who only know me through those pages. Leave them to wonder? Arrange for someone to put up a note? Just let them vanish when the ISP runs through the last of my money?

This is not a problem that existed twenty years ago.

#Comment made: 2002-06-20 12:24:39+00 by: topspin

The logical solution is in biochip technology: a chip which senses the demise of its "host" and signals not only a call paramedics, but also a server to start that cleanup/"shred the evidence" cron job.

Chip/server malfunctions, of course, could lead to Twainish postings of "Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated," but it seems apparent technology will allow the geekiest to control their machines and virtual existences beyond death.

#Comment made: 2002-06-20 14:38:00+00 by: Dan Lyke

I've often considered a "dead man switch" of some sort on, say, my Chattanooga server. Don't check my email for a month, it could do all sorts of stuff; make a few financial transactions, send email to appropriate folks... Of course the financial transactions probably would just make things more complex for the folks cleaning up after me.

Mars, thanks for putting it in perspective.

#Comment made: 2002-06-22 16:37:52+00 by: Dan Lyke

/. has a link to a Dead Man's Switch for Windows.