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Will your web site live on after you die?

I’ve been thinking about death recently. Not enough to become really morbid or anything, but pondering what will be left in the way of memories. Will I leave my mark on the world? Will my thoughts and deeds live on?

Not that I’m in any hurry. Life’s way too good. But I wonder what to expect. Will it be an empty nothingness, a void? Or an afterlife? Reincarnation? I know I had one dream as a kid which was so vivid that it gives me reason to believe there’s something there. (Hey, you’ve got to get your beliefs somewhere.)

Kerry Packer famously had a near-death experience and claimed there was absolutely nothing there. Others have claimed they’ve seen things.

Maybe like in Sam Lowry’s last dream, you see what you expect to see. End up where you expect to end up.

An article on BBC online recently pondered whether websites live on after their owners die. Some people are lucky enough to find their sites archived by bodies such as the National Library of Australia (myself included — and those of you who leave comments here may be interested to know those are archived there too). The rest of us will only last as long as the domain name and hosting bills get paid, though many will live on as long as is around.

One story last week discussed plans to download peoples’ brains into computers, a bit like the holograms in Red Dwarf. An interesting idea, but it’s not immortality. No matter how good the software, it’s still a simulation of you; it’s not you.

In the mean time, I’m trying to make the most of the life I’ve got.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

7 replies on “Will your web site live on after you die?”

“No matter how good the software, it’s still a simulation of you; it’s not you.”

Interesting philosophical poser there. How do we know you *aren’t* a simulation? How do *you* know? I’m of the view that if it looks like a Daniel, walks like a Daniel and quacks like a Daniel then it’s easiest to treat it as if it *is* a Daniel.

On the other hand, I haven’t read the story you refer to, but we don’t properly understand how memory works let alone all the other features of the brain, so how can we possibly “download our brains” into a computer? Sounds like a crock to me.

The eternal website’s the easy one, so that is the question I will answer.

I’m sure enterprising prepaid funeral companies would be willing to add (X) living website amongst the options on the list, including flowers, cremation, burial, type of funeral etc.

And to pay for it, just make a will provision for the first $Xk of your assets to be put into a bank account with the interest paying the hosting.

Add more if you want it to be updated by a professional into the latest format every couple of years.

Even without such formal arrangements, I have seen websites of deceased people that are hosted by a friend. These sites have tended to have technical material of enduring interest.

Blogs are harder. As the novely wears off, it is increasingly common for living people to kill off their blogs. But the possibilty of ghost writers cannot necessarily be excluded. Alternatively, there is the possibilty of communal or collaborative blogs that survive after a member dies.

Sorry for the rant – I’d better put it in my blog ;)

Truly scary subject and wise words from Peter. The ‘family’ used to visit the deceased person’s residence and sort through their papers. Now they may go through the deceased person’s bookmarks and emails, but what if they are password protected? Will anyone bother?

Living as a shadow of your former self? I mean a simulation of your former self? No Sir, not for me. I have desire for immortality even as a hologram like Rimmer.

Am I the only one that wanted to leave a comment for the sheer novelty of something I wrote making it into the NLA archives?

Never mind the links, and the site. Daniel, you’d live on in the fond memories of those that have been reading the Toxic Custard mailings for what must be around 10 years now, and that, imho, is what really counts.

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