Letting Go

Dave Winer sometimes writes about death. His uncle, his father, the recently departed Aaron Swartz… his memorial posts for these people were poignant and honest reflections. I am sure that over the years he has written other remembrances but those are the ones I recall. I also remember Dave musing about what happens to a blogger’s online legacy when s/he dies. Might there not be an archive for the work of those who’ve passed away? Perhaps there’s an entrepreneurial opportunity there, but it seems like a depressing way to make a living.

My link clean-up project provides stark reminders of the passing of people I once admired, people I may have been close to or only knew at a distance. Deleting links seems so final. It’s easier to let go of a link that itself has rotted, an URL that has been returned to ICANN, than it is to delete the link of a person now deceased whose work remains online. But I’m doing it. Michelle “Mandarin Meg” Goodrich is gone and so is her website. Her link has been removed from my list. I think one of the reasons I’m having a hard time letting go of these links is the opportunity for reminiscence they provide–memories of good times and good conversations, deep thoughts or hilarious moments. Here are the names, in no particular order, of bloggers, now deceased, whom I’ve deleted from my list of links:

  • Michael O’Connor Clarke
  • Michelle Goodrich
  • Charlie “Winston Rand” Rhodes
  • Aaron “Uppity Negro” Hawkins
  • Aaron Swartz
  • Anita Rowland
  • Joe Bageant

Now comes the hard part, the knowledge that there are a few friends and acquaintances who have come and gone over the last twelve or thirteen years, and my mind (“like a steel sieve”) has refused to recall them while I made my list. When I hit the button to post this, I’m sure some name will spring to mind and I’ll be totally chagrined. No disrespect for those omissions is intended. As time goes by, more of us will qualify for this post’s sad roll call. And, like the man said, “The world will little note nor long remember” us. It’s likely though, that the world will long remember that at the dawn of the 21st century a new genre of electronic self publishing arose. They called it blogging, and they called the writers who did it bloggers.

5 thoughts on “Letting Go

  1. Such a sad elegy, Frank.

    Yes, archiving all that past brilliance would be a depressing “business” indeed.

    “Business” rules, as we have discovered once again. So, many talented amateurs who don’t care so much about business have returned to their previous lives, one presumes.

  2. For years I’ve held on to Jonathan Delacour’s RSS feed in my feed reader – I just released it to the wild last week when I switched over from Google Reader to Feedly. – there were a few others like that but that one was the hardest to let go.

    • Jonathon’s twitter feed seems to be alive and well! Just this last November he shared: “My first attempt at beer-can chicken was a qualified success. Moist & tasty but bland. Better to have marinated than just rub on the spices.”

      I’ve never had much luck with feed reading. I have no discipline, so my feeds are torrential in their volume. Someone like Jonathon who shares infrequently in the public nets would get buried in there.

      • Now that you mention it I do remember seeing that last year – 78 posts in 4+ years LOL

  3. Blogroll and RSS feed cleanup have never presented emotional duress for me. Where it hits me is in address books. My email client still contains addresses, phone numbers and various other meta details about friends, acquaintances or relatives who are now gone. Deleting them from there seems somehow disloyal, disrespectful, or just too heart-wrenching a task.

    In my recent change of cell phones it became a major issue to port over or transition contacts from the IOS model to the Android. My frozen Mac added to this difficulty, along with my PC’s inability to install iTunes in such a manner as to allow me to access the iTunes store, which apparently is a necessity if I want to enable a sync without it being a “return to default settings and lose all your data.” Which operating system do I hate more? These days it is a tie. But I digress.

    The end result is that I have had to slowly over time review my thousands of contacts by hand, one by one, and decide which to recode into the Android contacts method. The good news is that I have been able to delete the names, addresses, email and phone numbers of people either I don’t recall, or with whom I had one or two email exchanges many years ago, or people I choose now to drop from the list. I have yet to come upon any who have since passed. I did notate one person’s address by using the “Organization” field to enter “Friend of BTCG” – that being our dear, departed friend “Bob The Computer Guy” whose death 5 years ago still shocks and rattles Mrs. Yankfan and me. Bob’s email and contact information remains on my phones and in my email client.

    There are others, too, who remain in there, long gone, but not out of mind. It seems a small honor, a way of keeping their memories with me, to let them persist in my Contacts list. The spirit lingers, and when I happen upon those names when scrolling or seeking some other, it usually sparks a memory, and that makes me feel as though they are yet, in some sense, still with me.

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