Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Dear Ndugu,

something very strange happened to me yesterday: i was surfing the internet and randomly googled for medieval recipes, because that's what I like and what I am interested in. Soon I came across a website which specialised in this topic. I was happy to notice, though, that their collection was not complete. However, and in brief, this lead me to join a newsgroup on the subject, and I was proud to send my first post. Later that day, I wanted to get in touch with the moderator of this group. It seemed strange to me right away that his e-mail address was marked as "does not respond". I googled the person's name (as this and his town were displayed in the newsgroup) - it turned out that he has been dead for two years.

Now, dear Ndugu, this does raise a serious bigger issue: whatever happens to all those e-mail accounts, and especially webpages and newsgroups whose owners happen to die? Will all their stuff be floating on the internet for eternity, with their photos smiling at us, their user profiles telling us what they like (or don't like), what their hobbies are, and where they want to meet up? In the particular case of my newsgroup, the deceased (which, dear Ndugu, is another word for a dead person) was the only moderator of the group. So now what: is this now floating headless in cyberspace for eternity?

It struck me as strange, and I felt a little bewildered by the thought that death in cyberspace, and death in real life, do not necessarily coincide: they do not occur at the same time. Death in real life does not mean immediate death of the dead peoples' image and identity on the net. They are still around... for how long, for how long?

take care, dear Ndugu, and see you next time. Sincerely yours,

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